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Full text of "Studies in recent aesthetic"

I 



UNIVERSITY 
OF FLORIDA 
LIBRARIES 




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STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 



THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS 
CHAPEL HILL, N. C. 

THE BAKER AND TAYLOR CO. 
NEW YORK 

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 
LONDON 

MARUZEN-KABUSHIKI-KAISHA 
TOKYO 



STUDIES IN RECENT 

ESTH ETIC 



BY 



KATHERINE GILBERT 



7-/36 



•rfKRTAS 

V7 



CHAPEL HILL 

THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS 

1927 



COPYRIGHT 1927 BY 

THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS 



THE SEEMAN PRESS 
DURHAM, N. C. 



Printed in the United States 0/ America 



PREFACE 

This little book contains six essays on the 
philosophy of beauty. The complexity of the 
subject, a complexity which seemed to grow 
under my eyes like the tiny Japanese paper- 
flowers children plant in a bowl of water, de- 
terred me for the time being from the presump- 
tion of a systematic treatment. My best hope 
for getting a complete vision of the various 
aesthetic theories seemed to be to "fumble for 
the whole" by "once fixing on a part however 
poor." So the present work is confined to the 
literature since 1890 on the supposition that 
the ideas of our contemporaries are the most 
readily intelligible to us, and within that body 
of material I have selected a few special points 
and writers for discussion. 

Yet I think I may plausibly claim for what I 
have written more unity and centrality than are 
at once manifest. I have tried to avoid the 
mere ingenuities and curiosities of aesthetic 
speculation, and to aim always at the higher 
obvious. The problems handled are those we 
are always at and never done with. The prob- 
lem of the relation of the sensuous to the ideal 
in beauty is the theme of the papers on expres- 



vi STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

sion and medium. "The paradox of beauty 
discloses," says Bosanquet, "that art must rise 
above the actual and remain within the sensu- 
ous." The paper on Lalo, a prolific French 
writer little known in America, is occupied with 
the relation of personal impression to standards 
and sanctions of taste. Is the hackneyed say- 
ing, de gustibus, a final truth or a mere worn 
counter of discourse? Is there in the field of 
artistic criticism a parallel to Joubert's dictum 
about the interpretation of religion, that one 
should be fearful of being wrong when one 
thinks differently from the saints? The paper 
on Croce is concerned with the relation of the 
arts to Art. Hardy has cast this problem in 
poetical form in his verses supposed to be writ- 
ten in the Hall of the Muses in the Vatican. 
His interlocutor is a phantom who seemed to 
him to be the "essence of all the Nine." 

"Today my soul clasps Form ; but where is my troth 
Of yesternight with Tune : can one cleave to both ?" 

— "Be not perturbed," said she. "Though apart in fame, 
As I and my sisters are one, those, too, are the 
same." 

"But my love goes further — to Story, and Dance, and 
Hymn, 



PREFACE vii 

The lover of all in a sun-sweep is fool to whim — 
Is swayed like a river-weed as the ripples run !" 
"Nay, wooer, thou sway'st not. These are but phases 
of one." 

The chapter entitled "Tendencies and Prob- 
lems" is my one effort after explicit systematic 
wholeness. It is a survey of the aesthetic 
methods in vogue in England and America at 
the present time. The paper on Bergson's 
theory of comedy has the most subjective 
motive of any of the studies. I have long been 
interested in theories of wit and humor, and 
Bergson makes out such a clear case for such 
a wrong conception that he is convenient to 
start from. 

The four title-names, Bosanquet, Croce, San- 
tayana, and Lalo, not only designate as many 
influential writers in aesthetics, but give at the 
same time a local habitation to four distinct 
logical approaches. By taking a variety of per- 
sonalities and methods I intended to taste 
around and extend my sympathies and under- 
standing as widely as possible. Bosanquet 
would have deplored any restricting designation 
of his method, for he thought of himself simplv 
as one heir of the long and diversified philoso- 
phical tradition, a later vehicle of the impulse 



viii STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

that moved Plato and Aristotle and Kant and 
Hegel. The other writers dealt with define 
their methods with a greater feeling of exclu- 
sion. Croce's interpretation is lyrical, San- 
tayana's psychological, and Lalo's sociological. 
Though I tried to live myself into each of these 
views in turn, my thinking has never been so 
plastic, I trust, as to lack characteristic logical 
substance of its own. It will be obvious to the 
most superficial reader that that substance has 
been considerably molded by Bosanquet. Like 
many other students of philosophy I believe the 
works of Bosanquet to constitute one of the 
best modern guides for a person feeling his way 
in any kind of philosophical speculation. He 
seems to me at once more subtle and more sim- 
ple than the majority of thinkers. But there 
is an important distinction between the expres- 
sion of confidence and the fallacy of the argu- 
mentum ad verecundiam. 

* * * 

These studies have been carried on by grace 
of the Graham Kenan Foundation in Philoso- 
phy of the University of North Carolina, the 
gift of Mrs. Sarah G. Kenan. The adminis- 
trator of the fellowship, Professor Horace H. 
Williams, has long been distinguished for his 



PREFACE ix 

practical faith in the freedom of thought. He 
believes both in its intrinsic value and ultimate 
social beneficence. I have him to thank for the 
liberal atmosphere in which I have pursued 
these researches. I am indebted to the Editors 
of The Philosophical Review for permission to 
reprint in this volume the articles entitled 
"The One and the Many in Croce's Aesthetic" 
and "Santayana's Doctrine of Aesthetic Ex- 
pression," which were published by them in 
September, 1925, and May, 1926, respectively. 
My associates in the department of philosophy, 
Professors Edgar Wind and Paul Green, have 
kindly read the entire manuscript and have 
given me many helpful suggestions on matters 
of detail. 

K. G. 

The University of North Carolina, 
November, 1926. 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Preface v 

I Current Tendencies and Problems 3 

II Bosanquet on the Artist's Medium 40 

III Bergson's Penal Theory of Comedy .... 62 

IV The One and the Many in Croce's Aesthetic . . 89 

V Santa yana's Doctrine of Aesthetic Expression . 114 

VI Beauty and Relativity : The Theory of 

Charles Lalo 140 

Remarks on the Ugly 162 

Notes and References 168 

Index 175 



STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 



CURRENT TENDENCIES AND 
PROBLEMS 

The problem which Hogarth himself industriously 
confuses. — Bosanquet, History of Aesthetic. 

The energy and diversity of view of English- 
speaking writers on aesthetics lie on the very 
surface of our present world of print. For 
example, Dr. Christian Ruckmick announces 
that his exhaustive bibliography of rhythm has 
now reached seven hundred and fourteen titles; 1 
and rhythm is only one of many aesthetic prob- 
lems the psychologists are attacking. Dr. 
Laurence Buermeyer notes, as he criticizes the 
position of Mr. Clive Bell, that that position has 
been capitalized "by a host of writers." 2 And 
the hosts of the laboratory and the hosts of Bell 
are but two among several distinguishable 
groups engaged with aesthetics. The time 
would therefore seem to be ripe for a survey 
of these groups as wholes, a tracing of their 
interrelations, and an estimate of the value of 
their work. The time would seem to be the 
more pressingly ripe when the chaos in the bib- 



4 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

liography of rhythm is observed, even though 
the chaos was deliberately chosen for the sake 
of broader interest, and when Dr. Buermeyer 
is able to say that Bell's followers "have thrown 
to the winds incontestable laws of psychology 
and logic." This overwhelming wealth of dis- 
sertation and essay and report about the nature 
of the aesthetic experience contains much that 
is important and interesting, but inspected in 
the large resembles a bright crazy-quilt of opin- 
ion, with no beginning, middle, or end, no pat- 
tern or direction, no mutual understanding or 
self-consciousness within its four corners. The 
first impression is that of a motley congeries of 
clashing dogmatisms, where the need is for a 
slow, critical, organic effort to grasp a single 
theme. 

The pressure of analysis upon this body of 
writing reveals at the outset the widespread 
conviction that, however much philosophers 
and men of letters may speculate about beauty, 
it is the experimental psychologists who will 
settle things. It is not only the psycholo- 
gists themselves who believe in their own final- 
ity. Mr. Roger Fry, whose temper and train- 
ing are of a wholly different sort, says that we 
must probably leave it to the experimental psy- 



TENDENCIES AND PROBLEMS 5 

chologists to decide whether such a thing as a 
song really exists, "that is to say, a song in 
which neither the meaning of the words nor the 
meaning of the music predominates; in which 
music and words do not merely set up separate 
currents of feeling, which may agree in a gen- 
eral parallelism, but really fuse and become indi- 
visible." 3 He even suggests that we probably 
cannot get much farther with the general ques- 
tion of the relation of art and science until the 
psychologists have settled a number of prob- 
lems. 4 And in his treatise on English versifica- 
tion, Dr. Paull F. Baum, also of the contrasting 
artistic tradition, guards himself indeed with 
scholarly care by reference to the personal 
equation of 'subjects' in laboratory tests, but at 
the same time thanks the experimental psychol- 
ogists for the approximate clarification of the 
most disputed point in all prosodic theory: the 
relative importance of time and stress in Eng- 
lish verse. And in general he says that "in the 
future psychologists may, and let us hope will, 
enable us to comprehend the subtleties of met- 
rical rhythm beyond our present power." 5 
What is the method of this experimental psy- 
chology to which such primacy of power is 
attributed ? 



6 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

There is a tendency to suppose that this psy- 
chology has no method, in the sense of underly- 
ing assumptions or a controlling set of ideas 
which condition the certainty and applicability 
of its findings, no method, that is, which a logi- 
cian might place and analyze. Part of the con- 
fidence in psychology flows from the supersti- 
tion that its abstraction from personal feeling, 
employment of mechanical recording instru- 
ments, and control over theory by a series of 
experimental tests which are then systematized 
statistically, enable it to yield pure fact. Thus 
Warner Brown in his Empirical Study of Typi- 
cal Verses by the Graphic Method contrasts the 
"deductive and analytic method" which, he says, 
necessitates working definitions, with his own 
inductive method which "requires no presuppo- 
sitions." 6 No one doubts, of course, that inves- 
tigations may be carried on without any aware- 
ness of assumptions on the part of the investiga- 
tor. But it does not follow that there is no pre- 
supposition involved in the way problems are 
conceived, in the connotation of terms employed, 
and in the whole manner in which an inquiry is 
conducted. It seems to be one of the incontest- 
able but neglected laws of logic to which Buer- 
meyer refers that all human theory has a form 



TENDENCIES AND PROBLEMS 7 

as well as a matter, that is, a shape and tex- 
ture consequent on assumptions. 

A great deal of experiment in aesthetics, then, 
has proceeded on the unconscious assumption 
that the aesthetic emotion is easily available. It 
is not fair to the best of the experimentalists to 
say that the method has been : Take any person 
you please; devise a mechanism for recording 
his reactions ; ask him a question which has oc- 
curred to you more or less haphazard but which 
contains the word color or chord or funny; aver- 
age up his reactions with others similarly ob- 
tained; and then incorporate your result in the 
general theory of the nature of beauty. But it 
is true that the reactions of school children and 
of the only slightly selected personnel of col- 
lege laboratories have often been taken uncriti- 
cally as relevant to and continuous with the 
actions and reactions of the assured artistic 
mind. You see in a psychological journal such 
a title as "The Difference between Artist and 
Scientist," and you find that college professors 
have guaranteed a group of undergraduates as 
artistic or scientific, and that then (with the 
gratuitous warning that we have not here bud- 
ding Shelleys or Huxleys) certain hypotheses 
looking toward the universal problem are of- 



8 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

fered on the basis of the behavior of a callow 
and undistinguished group. 7 Under the title 
"The Creative Imagination" you read how chil- 
dren have been asked to make patterns or pic- 
tures out of a series of groups of six dots. 8 
Whether the problem has been comedy or 
tragedy, rhythm, melody, or prosody, the tenta- 
tive solutions have frequently been sought in 
terms of the choices or behavior of the none-too- 
sensitive run of humanity. If these are the 
data, can mechanisms and mathematics digest 
them into aesthetic theory ? Perhaps so ; but we 
surely have here a conditioning postulate and 
not certainty. It will be remembered that the 
lady who said, "I don't know anything about 
art, but I know what I like," received the an- 
swer from Whistler, "A quality, Madame, 
which we share with the lower animals" ; which 
showed clearly enough how relevant he thought 
the likings of untrained persons were to aes- 
thetic. And Mr. Fry, in spite of his respect for 
the laboratory, did not call it in aid when he 
was trying to make his own judgment objec- 
tive, but tried, as he tells us, to perfect his sen- 
sibility by studying the traditional verdicts of 
men of aesthetic sensibility in the past, and by 
constant comparison of his own reactions with 



TENDENCIES AND PROBLEMS 9 

those of his contemporaries who were specially 
gifted in this way. 9 And it was this same con- 
viction that the specifically aesthetic emotion is 
a distinguished spiritual activity, a feeling ele- 
vated into a value, not an indiscriminate re- 
sponse, that motivated John LaFarge's epi- 
gram : "It is not we who judge a work of art, 
rather is it the work of art that judges us." 

One of the most interesting features of cur- 
rent experimental aesthetic is the growing sense 
within itself of its own former methodical sim- 
ple-mindedness. Some of the best investigators, 
conscious of the weakness entailed by miscella- 
neous 'subjects/ have been turning their atten- 
tion from data to donors. What is meant by 
the conception of the fit audience? they have 
virtually been asking. Mr. Edward Bullough 
and Mr. C. W. Valentine, among Englishmen, 
have made elaborate classifications of persons 
on the basis of their mode of apprehension of 
an aesthetic object. One instance of such a 
classification will serve to show how these psy- 
chologists are working. Mr. Bullough places 
lowest in aesthetic development the physiologi- 
cal type, that is, such persons as characterize a 
color or sound as soothing or jarring to the 
nerves. Second comes the non-fused associa- 



10 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

tive type. This includes the people who like 
landscapes because they remember that they 
were once happy amid such scenes.. Persons of 
the third, or objective type, fix their attention 
upon the object and not upon their own experi- 
ences, but they are excessively critical and aloof. 
They judge colors as pure or foggy, tones as 
full or round. They lack intimacy of feeling 
and decided preference among objects. Bul- 
lough places fourth those who fuse their asso- 
ciations with the object. Among inhering asso- 
ciations are those of the blue of the sky in the 
color blue and of the green of foliage in the 
color green. Highest of all he places the char- 
acter type — those who react to colors or tones 
as if sense-elements and complexes had person- 
alities. Certain people find orange mysterious 
or delicate; saturated red, dashing or majestic; 
particular tones meek or happy, forceful or sul- 
len. Another distinction which seems to this 
psychologist significant is that between the 
analytic and synthetic type of mind, between 
those who grasp an object centrally and as a 
whole, and those who take it piece by piece or 
aspect after aspect. 10 

Such evaluation of the testimony of subjects 
is a step in the direction of criticism. It sig- 



TENDENCIES AND PROBLEMS 11 

nalizes the growing recognition among psy- 
chologists that the aesthetic experience is not 
to be tested anyhow, anywhere, by anyone. It 
shows their own consciousness of the relativity 
of their experimental findings. The compara- 
tive culture, or intelligence, or maturity of the 
persons engaged is more and more taken into 
account, and the testimony of artists themselves 
is occasionally drawn upon. The introspective 
report of Henry Cowell recently published in 
the American Journal of Psychology 11 is an 
example. And yet granting all this, it still 
seems as if the implications of the principle of 
criticism have scarcely as yet begun to unfold 
themselves for laboratory workers. If your 
subjects are non-artists, even if they are of the 
selected 'character-type,' their reactions and the 
processes of genuine artists seem well-nigh in- 
commensurable. Consider, for instance, Wil- 
liam Morris' exquisite discrimination of color 12 
in comparison with the feeling of any layman 
you know. Or mentally compare the way 
George Eliot is said to have read poetry 13 with 
the way it would be read by any one you would 
be likely to find in an American psychological 
laboratory, and think in the light of this com- 
parison how much weight you would care to 



12 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

give in a theory of prosody to the experimental- 
ists. One writer of this school says: "Pay 
more attention to the actual performance of an 
individual in producing spoken verse"; 14 but is 
not the capacity of the performer as important 
as the actuality of his performance ? And when 
artists themselves are consulted what guaran- 
tee is there that they can report and analyze 
their own creative processes, and that they do 
not mingle inference with event and theory with 
emotion? And what is to be the interpretation 
of the almost universal lacuna in the artist's 
awareness of his own creative processes? "The 
closest observation on my part has failed to 
reveal what the exact relationship is, if there 
be one, between my musical creations and the 
experiences which have preceded it, either 
immediately or remotely," says Mr. Cowell. 
All these considerations ought indefinitely to 
complicate the 'scientific' treatment of the feel- 
ing toward beauty. 

You can state the psychologists' assumption 
of miscellaneous subjects also in terms of un- 
discriminated mental function. The attitude of 
immediate attraction is frequently taken by 
them as one with the attitude of aesthetic appre- 
ciation. Of course, formally, the category of 



TENDENCIES AND PROBLEMS 13 

'feeling' covers both the assertion of an un- 
grounded preference and the expression of in- 
structed admiration. But the same words, "I 
like it," issuing from very different levels of 
knowledge and sensitiveness may be judgments 
that belong essentially in different worlds. The 
aesthetic appreciation of music on its most 
organic and intelligent level would, probably, 
show more structural analogies with the mathe- 
matical mind in operation than with a vague 
warm 'love of music' If this difference in 
background and composition of mind is impor- 
tant, it seems as if Mr. Valentine took a serious 
matter lightly when, in the interests of conven- 
ience, he substituted for the question, 'Do you 
find this beautiful and why?' the question, 'Do 
you like this, and why?' or the question, 'Do 
you find this pleasing?' He explains the substi- 
tution by saying that the question containing 
the word 'beautiful' too often led to a discus- 
sion as to the application of the term. 15 But 
one wonders whether there is any rational sense 
in which the convenient questions could be re- 
garded as a substitute for the inconvenient one. 
Another assumption that has qualified psy- 
chological research has been that of the identity 
of a sensuous element within an aesthetic whole 



14 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

and outside it, or prior to its absorption into 
such a context, and after. Perhaps an inquiry 
into shapes and colors and tones isolated, float- 
ing in the void or in an artificially simplified at- 
mosphere, is relevant to an inquiry into their 
nature when they are embodied in a picture or 
sonata. It depends on how much alterative 
power over the parts you attribute to the whole. 
At any rate, we find pure form constantly stud- 
ied in contemporary experimental aesthetic 
under the assumption that such study bears sig- 
nificantly on the actual normal practice of aes- 
thetic appreciation. "R ... is the most used 
sound in English poetry." 16 Well? — Beauty in 
a pure line is expressed by unity of direction, 
continuity, roundness of curves, lack of angles, 
and periodical repetition of certain elements, or 
by a certain symmetry ; ugliness by the reverse. 1T 
This generalization on the basis of laboratory 
experiments is supposed to bear on the question 
why "authors used to write about melancholy 
lines in paintings by Perugina, quiet lines in 
certain classical schools, violent lines in the 
barocque art," etc. Does it? — The melody 
problem: How can a series of tonal stimuli 
generate the experience of melodic unity? 18 
But are successive tonal stimuli the source of 



TENDENCIES AND PROBLEMS 15 

aesthetic melodic unity, or is their discreteness 
forced upon them by analysis? 

The critical attitude toward what is whole 
and what is element, what is form, and what is 
content in beauty does not come wholly from 
outside psychology. Mr. Valentine remarks 
that "of course we shall find great changes in 
the effects of colors or lines when they are built 
up into complex arrangements such as pic- 
tures." 19 But he believes that after the build- 
ing up is over, the most striking and character- 
istic effects discovered in the elements still show, 
and that the difference in the two cases is one 
of complexity only. For a more radically criti- 
cal attitude, there is no inference possible from 
the artificial and formal laboratory of the scien- 
tist's devising to the living laboratory of the 
gallery or museum ; or from geometrical shapes, 
or colors on a wheel or card, to aesthetic ele- 
ment. On this radical view, the setting of a 
perceptum is crucial for its nature. An aes- 
thetic whole is not, for it, built up out of par- 
ticular colors or tones or shapes, but is made 
as a unit and felt as a unit, from which later 
in a time of analytical leisure, tones and colors 
and shapes may be drawn for inspection and 
comparison. When Mr. Bullough emphasizes 



16 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

the importance of the "unification of the aes- 
thetic experience, subjectively as a certain 
homogeneity or unity of the processes of appre- 
ciation, and objectively as the unification of 
the object by composition, content, or emotional 
and associative import" to the extent of saying 
it cannot be over-rated, that wholeness is "the 
one guiding principle, as a criterion of the aes- 
thetic quality and value of the different forms 
of apperception"; and when he even calls this 
point of view of the whole "something of an 
a priori principle," 20 he seems to be approaching 
a position which if logically developed might be 
revolutionary for experimental aesthetic. 

It is at least true that if the experimentalists 
are to find themselves anywhere in the same 
universe of discourse with writers like Roger 
Fry and Clive Bell a deep remodelling of method 
somewhere is necessary. Both groups are 
large and active, both talk about pictures and 
their elements, and about aesthetic preferences, 
and they seem to have a general purpose and 
subject-matter in common; and yet their re- 
spective orientations seem to be worlds apart. 
As the unconscious foundation of the experi- 
mentalists' method, except where a critical re- 
gressus is in process, lies the assumption of the 



TENDENCIES AND PROBLEMS 17 

'democracy' of their field, and the undistin- 
guished character of the experience. Anybody 
can work at the problems, any sense-complex 
is material. But for the group of which Mr. 
Fry is here taken as typical, the reverse is true. 
Selection is for them the very beginning of aes- 
thetic method. They are philosophically as un- 
sophisticated as the laboratory men, but they 
have had a training which has made them ex- 
quisite. For they are connoisseurs, or disci- 
plined tasters, and are knowing to a rare degree 
about the detail and technique of choice things. 
They admit only a few highly endowed persons 
as having aesthetic capacity, which they define 
as a special sensitivity to form. The values of 
the world of beauty are, in their opinion, as re- 
mote from those of actual common living as the 
most multi-dimensional geometry. Such ques- 
tions as, Do you like this or not? Do you find 
this pleasing or not? — addressed to an ordinary 
student would simply not touch the periphery 
of the aesthetic realm for thinkers of this 
school. We are well agreed, says Fry, that art 
is "something other than agreeable arrange- 
ments of form, harmonious patterns, and the 
like." 21 This distinction upon which Fry thinks 
we are all well agreed is the distinction which 



18 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

Valentine thinks we may ignore entirely when 
it is inconvenient. "The question of art begins 
where the question of fact ends," 22 says Fry. 
But it is facts alone, barring such a conspicuous 
exception as Bullough's a priori principle, which 
the psychologists want. While all the energy 
of psychology is directed toward correlating the 
wayward artistic emotion with common bodily 
and mental habits, and toward reducing the 
idiosyncracies of the aesthetic temper to nat- 
ural law, the connoisseurs are pressing the- 
ory in the opposite direction, toward the eso- 
teric, toward the perfect apprehension of elusive 
elements. The language of form is meaning- 
less to the vast public, they say. 23 "In propor- 
tion as art becomes purer the number of people 
to whom it appeals gets less. It cuts out all 
the romantic overtones of life which are the 
usual bait by which men are induced to accept 
a work of art. It appeals only to the aesthetic 
sensibility, and that in most men is compara- 
tively weak." 24 

Here, then, the zeal for criticism, for the sen- 
sitive disentangling of the beauty of art, is a 
strong wind that carries the ship of theory far. 
What we commonly think of as a great or pre- 
cious experience turns into something special or 



TENDENCIES AND PROBLEMS 19 

recondite. Extreme refinement of artistic ap- 
preciation issues for theory in the definition of 
aesthetic value by exclusion. Determination 
for this group, as for Spinoza, becomes nega- 
tion. "Literalism and illustration have through 
all these centuries been pressing dangers to 
art." 25 'Knowledge about' is erudition, and 
erudition has nothing to do with aesthetic en- 
joyment. Associations, whatever their degree 
of inherence or externality, are banned. Imi- 
tation of reality, whether it be the reproduction 
of trivial detail or imaginative interpretation, 
satisfies an alien interest, these critics say. 
Even the portrait of a man "in his metaphysical 
moment" would link itself with the interests of 
every day rather than with the symbols of the 
far world of plastic form. The subject-matter 
of a representation — what it is about — is al- 
ways a meaning contributed by the fund of ac- 
tual experience, and it is therefore irrelevant. 
The only thing that counts is the sum of 
the "unexpected inevitabilities of formal re- 
lations." 26 

It is interesting to note in passing that this 
extreme emphasis on form tends apparently to 
assimilate the various arts to music. "Good 
painting is a music and a melody which intellect 



20 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

only can appreciate and that with difficulty." 27 
Just so for the self-conscious Symbolist poet, 
Mallarme, the effect of poetry had to be obtained 
through musical allusiveness and the abstract 
cadences and overtones of language, and by no 
means through the normal sense of words. "A 
poem must be an enigma for the vulgar, cham- 
ber-music for the initiated." 28 

And not only with this extreme accent do the 
arts move toward the condition of music, but 
they all, including music, might be interpreted 
mystically. In this particular phase of con- 
temporary aesthetic the moment of other-world- 
liness seems to find one of its numerous expres- 
sions. In his obscure orchestrations of sound 
Mallarme was seeking not to produce a succes- 
sion of pleasant auditory sensations but to 
shadow forth a Platonic Idea. And it is some 
profound universal Idea which masters in paint, 
according to Fry, are trying through rhythmic 
symbols to make accessible to the more com- 
mon human understandings. And these artistic 
Idealisms have their parallel apparently in the 
musical compositions of Scriabin, who was 
"evidently trying to make music not articulate, 
but suggestive of some vision which tempts and 
eludes his gaze." 29 His "aerial flights" were 



TENDENCIES AND PROBLEMS 21 

essays to lead men "through the different ave- 
nues of sense to some remote and central dwell- 
ing-place of the soul." 30 

In this movement away from actuality, aes- 
thetic theory seems to be thinning out past the 
limit of intelligibility. Yet a mysticism, how- 
ever dream-like and exclusive, need not be taken 
as the assertion of a bare nothing. In spite of 
the radical withdrawal from life, it seems to 
me hardly accurate to say that Bell's expression 
'significant form' would be more truly de- 
scribed as 'insignificant' or 'meaningless' 
form. 31 I do think members of this group sug- 
gest here and there some content for the spe- 
cial experience. In his essay on Blake's pic- 
tures, for instance, Fry interprets those for- 
mal elements in which he is interested, the 
masses and spaces, lights and lines, as "the visi- 
ble counterparts to those words, like the deep, 
many waters, firmament, the foundations of the 
earth, pit, and host, whose resonant overtones 
blur and enrich the sense of the Old Testa- 
ment." 32 Blake drew almost nothing, Fry says, 
from external nature, but almost all his inspira- 
tion came from the vague and tremendous im- 
agery of the Bible upon which his spirit had 
been fed. Blake himself described his "David 



22 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

and Bathsheba" as "the mental abstract of 
voluptuousness." At times Fry asserts, it is 
true, that the aesthetic experience involves 
"complete independence of all the presupposi- 
tions and experience which the spectator brings 
with him from his past life," but at other times 
he says that for the highest art there is re- 
quired a "patient and scientific quarrying from 
the infinite possibilities of nature." 33 At times 
he is unequivocally opposed to imitation in art; 
at other times he says more mildly that any de- 
gree of representation is consistent with art. 34 
And it does not sound like mysticism in the bad 
sense, the drifting away from all definite sig- 
nificance, when he elaborately likens the artist's 
mind to the scientist's. 

As one criticism makes these connoisseurs 
vague mystics, another accuses them of fore- 
going all effects save those won from mere 
sensation, of identifying plastic form with dec- 
orative pattern, of making the figures on rugs 
or wall-paper the ideal of design. 35 It is true 
that in practice the extremes of mysticism and 
sensationism often meet. But we have seen 
that in this instance something more solid than 
a chimerical fancy seems to be intended by the 
mysticism, and I believe that similarly some- 



TENDENCIES AND PROBLEMS 23 

thing more significant than pure sensation is 
intended by the formal symbols. Fry explicitly 
affirms that the decorators fail because they do 
not know how to distinguish between what is 
agreeable and what is imaginative. 36 Not the 
immediately pleasant, but the universally valid 
in perception seems to be for the formalists, as 
for Plato, the content of the aesthetic ideal. 
They often make the universal form too strange 
and inaccessible a quality of things. Mr. Bell 
talks about escaping through art from circum- 
stance to ecstacy, attributes to art the captur- 
ing and embodying of our "shyest and most 
ethereal conceptions," calls naturalism "nasty," 
and when he does not place true formal appre- 
ciation on the frontiers of reality advances it 
over the edge into a kingdom beyond. And yet 
the metaphysical hypothesis which he explicitly 
states, and which Mr. Fry more parenthetically 
introduces, shows a family likeness to a well- 
known strain in the history of philosophy. At 
their best, the connoisseurs identify the artist's 
vision not with the thin ghost of reality, but 
with "that Universal which informs every par- 
ticular." 37 Indeed it is not when Mr. Bell con- 
ceives himself to be talking philosophy, when 
he seasons his discourse with references to "the 



24 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

thing-in-itself " and "the ultimate Reality," that 
he is actually in his best philosophical manner. 
It is rather when he and Mr. Fry try to give 
positive content to the essence of visible objects 
that they sketch in an aesthetic idealism which 
is worth examining. They seem to be seeking 
what might be called "the pure forms of intui- 
tion," in so far as such forms exist in the phe- 
nomenal world. It is as if they conceived their 
task as the separating out from the general 
structure of sensible experience those neces- 
sary, functional modes of semblances which 
have an affinity for the supreme excitements 
and swayings of our human spirit. The wide 
and deep reactions to beauty are given, they 
seem to say; where are the wide and deep prin- 
ciples in the sensible universe that cause them? 
Ordinary practical folk, so the theory runs, 
identify objects by some little eccentricity, some 
feather in the hat or mole on the cheek. Great 
artists, on the contrary, attend to the "univer- 
sal aspects of natural form" which, being com- 
mon to all things, are by most observers wholly 
neglected. 38 The personal, dynamic, rhythmi- 
cal treatment of these unnoticed omnipresent 
elements — the elements of line, mass, light, 
color, space — is the realization of form, and is 



TENDENCIES AND PROBLEMS 25 

authentic artistic 'expression.' This is an ab- 
struse doctrine, but it is not nonsense. The 
claim of the formalists that their adumbrations 
of the 'Idea,' their symbols and necessary rela- 
tions, are a fuller and completer reality than any 
we know outside art, 39 is intelligible if not con- 
vincing. 

The pull of temperament, with aestheticians, 
seems to be either into the clouds and out of 
sight, or prosaically down toward the obvious. 
One type conserves the value of beauty and of 
the creative imagination at all costs; the other 
type is chiefly concerned to see all the facts and 
experiences of life in their togetherness. The 
symbolists and formalists and idealists seem to 
their critics to be so choice with beauty that 
they attenuate it into an abstraction; but the 
danger with the critics is that, in their con- 
cern not to stiffen a distinction into a divi- 
sion, they may lose the distinction altogether. 
The cardinal postulate with the genetic school 
— Dewey, Santayana, and their train of asso- 
ciates — from which we have drawn the critics 
of formalism, is that no Value' is special, 
or, as they say, compartmental. "The aesthe- 
tic good is hatched in the same nest with 
the others, and is incapable of flying far in 



26 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

a different air." 40 The experimentalists seem 
to belittle the difference made to the aesthetic 
experience by its preciousness ; the formalists 
make the preciousness all in all; the genetic 
group dovetail it with the rest of life and 
nature. For every assertion in Fry or Bell 
of the disparity between life and art, there is at 
least one assertion in Dewey, or a sympathizer, 
of the continuity of the two. "Experience can- 
not be shredded up and parcelled out . . . : 
what is moral and religious is not therefore non- 
aesthetic." 41 Take the phrase 'the unity of the 
mind' in simple literal earnest, is the teaching 
of Dewey, and you break down the supposed 
barrier between common practice and the far 
reaches of culture and beauty. Take the phrase 
'the art of living' as no artificial metaphor, and 
you will have the vital matrix from which all 
the separate arts and museum exhibitions are 
offspring. 

What is the instrument of articulation by 
which this particular group of writers join to- 
gether that art and life which others put asun- 
der? Their method is the Darwinian one of 
tracing origins and observing development in 
the plain historical sense. Their fundamental 
postulate is that the past empirical career of 



TENDENCIES AND PROBLEMS 27 

anything, the story of how it came to be what 
it is, is the ideal explanation of its nature. Show 
how a thing is built up in time, and you have 
given the best possible definition of its consti- 
tution, they believe. In the process of becoming 
is revealed the nature of being. 

Now when in pursuance of this evolutionary 
method you look for the historical origins of 
the different mental functions, you find a vague 
general base of instinct for them all. In the 
beginning, religion and art and morality and the 
solution of the material problems of existence 
were inextricably fused. And so the pattern 
for a treatment of aesthetic, with this school, is 
simply the pattern of a general psychology. The 
spring of beauty, like the spring of other values, 
is in the vital functions, the natural propensi- 
ties, the nervous gropings. Your Darwinian 
philosopher begins his aesthetic with a survey 
and analysis of the instincts, and he then pro- 
ceeds to show how the original dynamic stuff 
is fashioned and refined by intelligence. Cer- 
tain instincts may be set apart as particularly 
inwoven with the enjoyment of beauty. Bald- 
win, for instance, selects two rudimentary 
forces, the tendency to imitation and to self- 
display. 42 And Tufts, grounding his theory on 



28 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

the work of the ethnologists, shows how the art- 
impulse may be regarded as a by-product of 
economic, sexual, and military demands. 43 But 
even if there is some attempt at distinction of 
type near the roots of art, the heterogeneity 
asserted is slight in proportion to the homo- 
geneity. And this is natural, for biological 
life is massive and simple in its early stages, 
and if the early stages are crucial for the expla- 
nation of late quality, then art and practical life 
are much the same. 

And externally regarded, the development as 
well as the origin of the various types of mental 
activity looks much the same. Intelligence re- 
fines and organizes any instinctive process 
whatever. The level of the mental process de- 
pends on the degree in which self -consciousness 
prefigures desirable results, adapts means to 
ends, and annihilates the sharp distinction be- 
tween means, taken as not desirable in them- 
selves, and end, taken as pure quietus. But in- 
telligence working in this way is not to be dis- 
tinguished from art, so the Darwinians tell us. 
All operations are art, and all perceptions beau- 
tiful, when the psychophysical organism is per- 
fectly adapted to its environment, and feels it- 
self to be so. 



TENDENCIES AND PROBLEMS 29 

If at this point some one protests that the 
essence and glamor of the aesthetic experience 
elude the evolutionary description, as — to bor- 
row a phrase from Hardy — "June-morning 
scents of a rose-bush in flower" elude "a clap- 
net of hempen material," then such an one is 
simply questioning the very axiom of the gene- 
tic school. There is for these thinkers no re- 
serve of reason which will ground a fact more 
satisfyingly than a plain statement of origin 
and growth. There is for them no ultimate 
'spiritual principle,' no artist's inspiration, no 
contemplative reason distinct in kind from the 
practical reason. To appeal to such entities 
would not seem in their eyes like a different 
approach, but like the resignation of all method 
and reason. And to all this cry of 'Don't level 
out the distinction,' 'Don't miss the intrinsic 
value,' the Darwinians reply that there is as 
much assumption involved in holding fast by a 
difference as in stressing continuity. That is, 
if you oppose the amalgamation of the practi- 
cal and the physical with the beautiful, you may 
have too mean a conception of the practical and 
the physical. You do not lower beauty by set- 
ting it within a bed of biological process, they 
say; you simply conceive the animal life more 



30 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

appreciatively. If, says Baldwin, you explain 
the interaction of organism and environment 
quite mechanically, you obviously cannot make 
the derivation of the highest functions of mind 
out of that interplay seem reasonable. But, he 
adds, you must not conceive it mechanically. 44 
The danger of preaching in works of imagina- 
tion is doubtless real, these thinkers say, but ab- 
solutely to separate art and morals devitalizes 
both. It "makes morality dull, perfunctory, 
and self-righteous, art undisciplined and parasi- 
tic." 45 And so the correlation of art with life 
must be wrought from the life end as much 
as from the art end. If you impute more 
glamor to simple existence, then the glamor of 
fine art will not seem like an unannounced ar- 
rival in the biological series. 

Is there not, however, still a problem in 
method for this group? "Before we proceed 
to ask what history tells us," says Ritchie, "it 
* may be worth while to ask what history can tell 
us." 46 And I do not think it can be denied that 
the farther into the heart of beauty the Darwin- 
ians move, the more their instrument of analy- 
sis gropes and labors. For instance, Tufts can 
demonstrate plausibly enough that the making 
of pottery originally answered to a practical 



TENDENCIES AND PROBLEMS 31 

need, and that realistic sculpture in Egypt had 
a religious significance. But to the inevitable 
question why, even if art sprang out of non- 
aesthetic causes, it yet availed itself of sensu- 
ous harmony in the satisfaction of these de- 
mands (and is not this after all the only specif- 
ically aesthetic question?) he answers less con- 
vincingly. He says, in substance, that at the 
springing up of the arts, men worked much in 
groups, and that where there are working 
groups there is likely to be rhythmic action. 
Rhythmic action, he says truly, is stimulating 
and facilitating in labor. 47 I think one has an 
uncomfortable feeling here that the one signifi- 
cant question has been pushed back a stage 
rather than answered. And when Santayana al- 
lows aesthetic value to high monetary costs 48 
and couples physiological breathlessness with 
the experiences of exquisiteness and awe, 49 I 
think we feel that the inweaving of art and life 
is strained. And when Buermeyer compares 
the methodical search for beauty in the fine 
arts to a scientist's laboratory, 50 it is not quite 
clear how he accounts for the equipment of the 
laboratory. For the power to complete and 
purify chance expressions of feeling which the 
fine arts possess, and the ability of the profes- 



32 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

sional artist to "construct crucial instances," is 
the power of the whole intellectus ipse, and that, 
as Leibniz noted, is not derived from the senses. 
Neither is it derived from the empirical thick- 
ening up of sensation in the process of evolu- 
tion. 

Like the genetic school, the little group of 
English Neo-Croceans — Carritt, Collingwood, 
Walkley, J. A. Smith — make the aesthetic ex- 
perience as wide as life itself. Nothing has so 
held back the science of aesthetics, Croce says, 
as the separation of art from the general life, 
and having made of it a special function or 
aristocratic club. The roots of art are in our 
common human nature, and the genius is not 
one fallen from the sky, but humanity itself. 
It would be truer to say instead of Poeta nasci- 
tur, Homo nascitur poeta, for we are all lyri- 
cists in our measure. So Croce. 51 And those 
who think with him are never weary of declar- 
ing that "art includes both the Paradiso and a 
child's scribble or a guttersnipe's discordant 
whistle," 52 and that to exalt it above the com- 
mon level of experience and fence it around for 
the use of a few choice throughbreds, as if it 
were a specialized type of consciousness, is to 
commit an initial logical blunder. The pas- 



TENDENCIES AND PROBLEMS 33 

sionate breathing of the laboring-man to his 
lassie, the popular love-song on the lips of every 
passer-by, fall in the same category with the 
achievements of Leopardi, says Croce, 53 and 
such a pronouncement sets the pitch for his 
disciples. 

The Croceans do not achieve their strong 
sense of the universality of the aesthetic exper- 
ience by the aid of biology, as Dewey and his 
sympathizers do. The approach, as we shall 
observe, is altogether different. And yet there is 
some external similarity in their arguments, 
because both draw strength from primitive life. 
Look at the savage and the child, says Colling- 
wood, how easily and naturally they achieve 
beauty. "Most children can extemporize verses 
and songs better than their elders ; many of them 
invent excellent stories and draw in a pecul- 
iarly forcible and expressive way ; and all with- 
out exception are at home in a region of imagi- 
native make-believe from which the adult mind 
feels itself in some degree exiled. The same 
thing is true of savage and primitive races. The 
songs and stories, the drawings and carvings 
and dances of savage peoples are of an excel- 
lence quite disproportionate to the same peoples' 
knowledge and mastery of the world around 



34 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

them." 54 Art, then, is taken by the Croceans 
as a universal and fundamental activity partly 
because it occurs first, before specialization of 
type sets in. And the illusion that art is high 
and difficult comes, they say, from the effort re- 
quired of adults to "recapture a more unsoph- 
isticated frame of mind." Because art is char- 
acteristically the expression of the childish tem- 
per, all artists as such, no matter how great or 
old, always betray something of the child's emo- 
tional instability, crudity of outlook, and ego- 
tism. 55 

Now though this group and the third group 
arrive at their fusion of art with life by differ- 
ent roads, the similar emphasis on naive levels 
of mind leads to a similar unconvincingness in 
the interpretation of the complex or triumphant 
examples of art. Croce holds to his theory 
heroically. Since art is an identical form run- 
ning from the lowest to the highest manifes- 
tations of life, such differences in expressive- 
ness as occur are quantitative only. All differ- 
entiation through quality, superiority of worth, 
rareness and sensitiveness of soul, which is for- 
malism's corner-stone, is babbling and foolish- 
ness to Croce. But the problem is hardly to be 
solved lightly. Among Croce's English follow- 



TENDENCIES AND PROBLEMS 35 

ers there is a cautious but unmistakable straying 
from orthodoxy. Mr. Carritt, for instance, is 
convinced that Croce's quantitative mode of 
evaluation fails to do justice to some of the 
normal deliverances of our aesthetic feeling. 
Carritt suggests, for instance, that Mariana's 
song in Measure for Measure is not merely 
shorter and simpler than the whole play, but less 
great. He suggests in general the test of the 
comparison of fragments with wholes and first 
drafts with later ones. "If five books of the 
Odyssey or two movements from the Ninth 
Symphony survived they would be beautiful, 
and we cannot be certain because the Melian 
Aphrodite and the Abbey at Tintern are quite 
beautiful as fragments that the lost parts may 
not have combined with them in beautiful and 
even more beautiful wholes. The beauty of a 
whole is not the sum of the beauties of parts 
into which it may be divided, yet it is often, I 
think, a greater beauty, not merely different." 58 
Is not the distinction between the two felt to be 
something other than between two sizes or thick- 
nesses, he inquires. 

Lascelles Abercrombie, who is less than half 
Crocean and who yet acknowledges the im- 



36 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

portance of the Crocean influence upon him, 
takes a firm stand where Carritt takes a cau- 
tious one. It may be a 'Vulgar prejudice" to 
believe in "the idea of great poetry," he says, 
but if so, he is content to start with the preju- 
dice and see where it will lead him. It leads him 
through a whole book of analysis and demon- 
stration of qualitative magnitude in poetry. 
Richness and inclusiveness of harmony mark a 
new kind of thing, he says, not merely more of 
the same. Lesser poets, infinitely precious in 
their kind , lack what might be called the 
strength of compass of their superiors. Only 
minds which are the highest artistically can 
enchant without exclusion, can link on one can- 
vas sharpest pain and keenest pleasure and 
manifold types of artistic effect. "Wherein 
lies the difference between the fancy of Queen 
Mab and the imagination of the living and an- 
guishing Rood?" Why is Shakspere greater 
than Shelley, and Dante than Leopardi ? Greater 
scope without loss of shapely coherence, he 
answers. 57 

But the tendency of pure-blooded Croceanism 
is to depress apparent differences of quality 
in art into differences of quantity, and to show 



TENDENCIES AND PROBLEMS 37 

art as coextensive with life. The spreading out 
and linking together is not accomplished, how- 
ever, in this case, through the help of Darwin, 
though there is much talk of the primitive. In- 
deed, it is not clear how far the Croceans have 
a right to appeal to what is biologically simpler, 
for their main principle of analysis is logical. 
The true reason why Croce and his followers 
can assert the universal presence of the 'intui- 
tion-expression' lies in their definition of it as 
the logical presupposition of all other stages of 
mental life. To find the Crocean intuition in 
all consciousnesses is much like finding space in 
all objects. All other types of mental activity — 
thought and morality — are complications of the 
simple imaging mode of spirit. The Crocean 
aesthetic experience is really not an experience, 
but a carefully isolated logical form. 

Moreover, like the forms of the old formal 
logic, it wins its universality at the price of 
content. It illustrates afresh the discredited 
law that intension varies inversely as extension. 
Beauty is so simplified and isolated that it has 
to be defined chiefly in negative terms. Art is 
non-moral, non-real, non-logical, non-mystical, 
non-hedonic. As in the case of the connois- 



38 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

seurs who were chiefly occupied in refining away 
all alien elements and extraneous interests, so 
concerning this excluding theory of Croce's 
there is inevitably a suspicion of emptiness and 
meaninglessness. A theory of art cannot pro- 
gress far or give much definite illumination 
that turns forever around the bare declara- 
tion: Beauty is itself, and not other sorts of 
things. You can deduce a definition of ugli- 
ness, as Mr. Carritt does, and make a general 
application of your definition, but that is about 
all. Artistic error, or ugliness, says Carritt, 
"just consists in the confusion of criteria, in 
approving Milton's verse as edifying, or Shel- 
ley's politics as beautiful, Plato's philosophy as 
charming, or Schopenhauer's romance as 
true." 58 

Even the staunch Mr. Carritt betrays a con- 
sciousness of the possible barrenness of so tight 
a definition. Unsympathetic readers may com- 
plain, he says, that such an aesthetic as this only 
attains the negative result of destroying false — 
moralistic or hedonistic — reductions of beauty. 
He replies that even this elaboration of a nega- 
tion nets something for a clear understanding 
of the problem. 59 A negation always has its 



TENDENCIES AND PROBLEMS 39 

own standing ground. But is there not a seri- 
ous methodical weakness here? The formula- 
tion of Crocean ideas seems frequently to de- 
generate into tautology. "To imagine well 
means to imagine imaginatively : to live up to 
a criterion contained in the activity itself. The 
ideal at which the act of imagining aims is sim- 
ply the ideal of imagining." 60 And Carritt's 
definition of the comic has, I think, a hollow 
ring: The ludicrous is the redemption of aes- 
thetic failure. The criticism ought not to be 
pressed too far, for, as everyone knows, the 
negative or apparently tautologous judgment 
may turn up unexpectedly full of content. But 
there seems to be no doubt that Croceanism is 
on the whole stronger in denial than in affirma- 
tion, a characteristic which suggests something 
about the depth of the theory. 

Our survey of aesthetic theories has seemed 
to yield little but a war of methods. But if, as 
we have learned to realize, in the fact of beauty 
discord is no enemy to pleasure, might it not be 
equally true that in the theory of beauty, dis- 
cord need not ultimately prevent understanding? 



II 

BOSANQUET ON THE ARTIST'S 
MEDIUM 

Aristotle regards soul or mind not as the product of 
the physiological conditions, but as the truth of body, 
the oiWa, in which only do the bodily conditions gain 
their real meaning. — Edwin Wallace, Outlines of the 
Philosophy of Aristotle. 

A favorite procedure of Bosanquet's is to 
start with two contrary opinions and show by 
analysis that their opposition is superficial only. 
Unlike face, like heart, is frequently his drift 
when dealing with what he regards as artifi- 
cially simple ideas. 1 The voluptuary and ascetic, 
he tells us, take opposite attitudes toward pleas- 
ure, but both alike fail to appreciate the nature 
of vital enjoyment. The one luxuriates in psy- 
cho-physical sensation, the other abhors it ; but 
they share the confused opinion that pleasure is 
the sensation of an organism rather than some- 
thing solid and objective, in the same class 
with weather or work. Since Bosanquet does 
not regard the presentation of a paradox and 
its later resolution as a mere rhetorical device 
or personal mannerism but as an exemplification 



BOSANQUET ON ARTIST'S MEDIUM 41 

of the essential rhythm of reason, it seems ap- 
propriate to throw into that shape his ideas on 
the nature of the artist's medium. 

The two extremes of opinion are these : 

1. The artist's medium, being physical, hin- 
ders his creative act, which is spiritual. 

2. The artist's medium, being physical, does 
not hinder, or in any way affect, his creative act, 
because the latter is spiritual. 

The first opinion — that medium is a hin- 
drance — builds on familiar facts. You wish 
to copy a bronze statue in marble, and you can- 
not reproduce the contour of the hand because 
the marble, so shaped, would break off. You 
wish to make a bowl with a certain surface and 
color out of a given mass of clay, but the texture 
of your clay will not combine with the required 
glaze and tincture. Inspired by a sense of the 
splendor of the Mneid, you wish to make it over 
again in English, but even here in the case of 
language — the most transparent of all the me- 
dia — the physics of your material, the way 
the language has crystallized into certain habits 
and qualities of sound, sets an obstinate limit to 
the possibility of translation. From the Eng- 
lish clause "and were stretching forth their 



42 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

hands in longing for the further bank" you get 
a far less vivid picture of the outstretched hands 
than from the original 

Tendebantque manus ripae ulterioris amorc, 

and a far less poignant sense of the distance of 
the shore and the longing of the souls. Part 
of the loss in effect is due to the missing open- 
ness and sustained quality of the Latin sounds 
— tendebantque, with its four enduring sylla- 
bles, and the repetition of the long sound 'or' in 
the penultimate syllables of ulterioris amove." 

In such cases as these medium seems to func- 
tion as an impediment to artistic creation. They 
seem to justify Shelley's comparison of the phy- 
sical basis of beauty to a cloud enfeebling beau- 
ty's light, and even to erase Shelley's exception 
of the medium of language. His doctrine that 
the "materials, instruments, and conditions of 
art have relations among each other, which limit 
and interpose between conception and expres- 
sion," 3 appears for the time being as general 
law. 

Now in so far as this attitude toward me- 
dium is effectual with us, we are obviously gov- 
erned by the show of dead fixity in matter. As 
opposed to mind, which seems in comparison 



BOSANQUET ON ARTIST'S MEDIUM 43 

to be self-moving, adaptable, elusive, and re- 
sponsive, matter seems on this view of medium 
to be stationary and lumpish. Matter does not 
seem to answer adequately to occasions, and 
mind with its artistic instinct is full of occasions. 
It seems to remain heavily inert and undeviat- 
ingly itself — the settlings in the cup of the uni- 
verse, as it were — while mind leads its con- 
trasted mode of existence, all energy, all thrust 
and spring and resource. Under certain circum- 
stances this quality of fixity in matter may even 
take on to our imagination the color of perver- 
sity. When the heaviness of matter obstructs, 
as we think, the mobility of our purposes, then 
heaviness puts on the features of hostility. So 
the body often seems to us related to the soul. 
It sets a galling limit to what our will can do. It 
acts as a blockade impeding the normal effluence 
of our desires and emotions and ambitions. We 
have all the imaginative equipment of the singer, 
but we lack the musical ear. We wish to master 
some field of knowledge, and our mind is capa- 
ble of it, but we too quickly reach the senseless 
limits of fatigue or illness. Schumann's in- 
jured hand and Milton's blindness were thus 
dead lines to activity. The general position 



44 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

comes to this then: the dull mass of matter 
through which the soul must work itself out — 
whether soul of man or soul of art — sets a bar- 
rier in the way of full flowering. The medium, 
so far, seems to be a regrettable incident in art, 
a weight about the neck of the creative imagi- 
nation. 

For two main reasons Bosanquet would not 
admit this opinion of the relation of medium 
to expression in art. In the first place, the 
theory implies that the very existence of a me- 
dium — any medium at all — hinders the realiza- 
tion of beauty — any kind of beauty at all. But 
what is actually true, Bosanquet would say, is 
that the existence of a specific medium condi- 
tions the form beauty must in a given case as- 
sume, but sets no limit to the general degree of 
beauty obtainable. The fallacy is in construct- 
ing a tight little circumscribed fancy of a beau- 
tiful object, and in then demanding that by 
some enchantment the object be generated out 
of a material whose nature is incompatible with 
the detail of the fancy. For instance, a man 
plans and projects for himself a house with a 
clear-colored roof, then orders his builder to 
cover his shelter with a cheap tile which always 
weathers a dirty black. Or he wants an arch of 



BOSANQUET ON ARTIST'S MEDIUM 45 

a certain type out of a material that cannot sus- 
tain itself in that shape. It is a blunder in logic 
rather than a consideration in aesthetics to start 
with two fixed and mutually exclusive concep- 
tions, an idea of a finished work of art of a 
definite kind and an idea of a physical substance 
from which no magician could conjure such a 
finished object, and then attempt to combine 
these two ideas in a single whole. The frustra- 
tion of such an attempt tells you nothing about 
beauty at all, but throws you back on the ele- 
mentary lesson of the law of contradiction. The 
nature of the English language was a fixed con- 
dition of the texture of beauty realizable in our 
familiar translation of the Bible, but who would 
then deplore, having the King James version, 
that it fails to exhibit the genius of the Greek or 
Hebrew tongue ? The flavor of the Greek or He- 
brew was proscribed, but not on that account 
greater beauty. "You can copy a thing," says 
Bosanquet, "so splendidly that your copy will 
be more beautiful than the thing." 4 Your me- 
dium becomes an unexpectedly fertile resource 
instead of a clogging impediment. You may 
be driven by the quality of your medium to ex- 
treme lengths of inventiveness, but to say that 



46 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

is one thing, and to say that beauty is in general 
hampered by medium is another. 

Bosanquet's first answer to the assertion, 
"The artist's medium is an obstacle to free 
expression" would be, I take it, this : A defined 
medium may prevent a particular foreordained 
type of expression; but some kind of beauty is 
compatible with any kind of medium. If beauty 
is left free, it will grow in any soil. 

His second answer would be to point out 
the petitio involved in calling matter dead. 
What do you mean by the 'matter' of the artist's 
material, he would ask. If you identify an 
artist's medium with the physical and chemical 
constructions of natural science, you at least 
are arbitrary, for that is only one among sev- 
eral possible uses of the word 'matter.' But if 
you do so choose, you are not even then reduced 
to a conception of matter irremediably opposed 
to the conception of mind as the self-moving. 
The notion of inert mass is the "killed and 
stuffed" version of the scientist's matter, 
Bosanquet says. It is a popular superstition 
about the matter of the physicist rather than 
that matter philosophically interpreted. For 
the very definition of matter for the scientist 
includes the "working connection within par- 



BOSANQUET ON ARTIST'S MEDIUM 47 

ticulars," a sort of equivalent of the scholastic 
universal. For modern physics the material ob- 
ject is dominated by a "general law of action 
and construction," and this law, though 
expressed in mathematical formulae, refers to 
modes of work, or to (and this is Bosanquet's 
favorite term) the 'life' permeating and sus- 
taining the elements. 5 And this explicit recog- 
nition of an order and connection of parts 
within a 'stuff' is all that Bosanquet needs in 
claiming for matter an affinity with mind rather 
than a constitution hostile to spirit, and for the 
artist's medium responsiveness rather than re- 
calcitrancy to free expression. 6 

If a physicist feels himself the victim of a 
sophistry in the conversion of his admission of 
an order and connection of parts expressible 
in a mathematical formula into an assertion of 
affinity with mind and an 'ideal' nature, he will 
perhaps not continue to feel so if he comes to 
understand the unpsychological connotation of 
'mind' for Bosanquet. Our philosopher is no 
stickler for names. Like all good empiricists he 
is after the thing. He frankly admits that he 
does not know what the word 'mental' means, 
and so he refrains from applying it to the life 
of a stuff. "If . . . ," he says, "all that is 



48 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

precious and substantial could truly be fused 
and focussed in an admitted real, I at least 
should not be greatly troubled at being ordered 
to call it physical." 7 All that he stands out for 
is the logical nature of matter, and by logical 
nature he means what can be reasoned out as 
necessary to a thing, over and above what a 
first look at it reveals. In imputing 'conation' 
to matter as he does, he quite precisely does not 
impute a soul in the ordinary sense of that term. 
"What we want and use of the inorganic world 
is only its externality. ... If it has souls of 
its own, they do not help us, because we cannot 
communicate with them." 8 

But, after all, it is not the physicist's matter 
which is in question in the medium of art. Only, 
Bosanquet would say, it is worth remembering 
that it is not even possible to call the physicist's 
matter into court in support of a general feeling 
that matter is dead weight. He would say: 
From no point of view can matter be fully 
analyzed and retain its seeming quality of 
obstacle to mind. But what, then, is matter as 
medium of art? 

It must always be an element in a felt whole 
— a whole felt to be beautiful. There is no 
question now of a place in that world which, 



BOSANQUET ON ARTIST'S MEDIUM 49 

according to James Hinton, the scientist pro- 
nounces real: "dark, cold, and shaking like a 
jelly." 9 It is a problem now of the contribution 
made by a physical substratum to a peculiar 
kind of pleasure. Matter has become a feature 
in the life of imagination, an aspect of the sem- 
blance of a thing. You might say, quite in the 
spirit of Bosanquet, that while a beautiful 
object is, as it were, the 'body' of your pleasure 
while you are engaged in aesthetic contempla- 
tion, the medium out of which the beautiful 
object was constructed, is the body of that 
body. What, then, is this further body, in our 
enjoyment and creation of beautiful things? 
The clue to Bosanquet's answer may be found 
in his exposition of "the life of blueness," blue- 
ness being taken as the outward showing of a 
physical substance. 

"What I see when I look at a blue thing has 
unity, and life. Its parts, that is, though varied, 
confirm, support and determine one another by 
explicit 'compresence.' It pulsates with feeling, 
a common tone, which involves the presence of 
a whole all at once, reinforcing and modifying 
every part by the simultaneous effects of all. 
What does a unity of this kind consist in? 
Identity of ethereal wave-lengths? Not at all. 



50 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

That may be presupposed, but it will not do the 
work by itself. Blue is a peculiar 'effect' ; effect, 
I mean, in the artistic sense of the word; and 
wave-lengths, received say on a photographic 
plate, are not the peculiar effect which we call 
blue, even if as a physical cause they were to 
produce it qua physical effect. How do the ele- 
ments of the effect hold together ? What makes 
the blue reinforce or modify the blue? There 
is no push or pull between them. They work 
on each other through their identity and differ- 
ence; or, to avoid disputes, here irrelevant, 
through their likeness and unlikeness." 10 

If instead of talking about color, Bosanquet 
were considering those vehicles of the arts 
which are solid substances, ivory, wood, metal, 
marble, his analysis would be of the same pat- 
tern. What, he would inquire, is the life of the 
marble in a statue? Not surely so many units 
of force or mass, but a play of light among glis- 
tening particles, delicacy of texture, and a sug- 
gestion of durability and heaviness borne in 
upon you by the whole statue. The vehicle of 
the vision is not marble with all the expressive- 
ness ironed out of it, and reduced to the primary 
measurable qualities, but marble with all its 
tints and veins and crystals actively present and 



BOSANQUET ON ARTIST'S MEDIUM 51 

operating on each other within the limits of a 
given contour. And all this excitement and 
motion within the marble might just as well be 
described as an excitement and motion within 
the artist's sympathetic feeling. The artist, 
Bosanquet says, lives, or lives in, the detail of 
his object, so that his feeling becomes a prop- 
erty of it. 11 

Helmholtz' famous essay on the physical 
basis of harmony illustrates the difficulty of 
the problem of medium in music, and exhibits 
in the concrete the tension between the view 
of medium as abstractly physical and as beauty- 
component. He seems to shift his point of view, 
now regarding his acoustical analysis as saying 
something ultimate and decisive about musical 
beauty, and now carefully restricting the sig- 
nificance of his physical and physiological gen- 
eralizations to the sub-aesthetic realm. He 
knows that his reduction of the physical basis 
of concord to rate, height, form, and type of 
collision of ether-wave is somehow relevant to 
aesthetics, but he does not make it quite clear 
how it enters in nor how decisive a part it plays. 
"We must distinguish," he says, "between the 
material ear of the body and the spiritual ear 
of the mind." 12 So what is important in the 



52 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

physiology of audition may never reach the 
threshold of the perception of beauty. This he 
notes. And again he is careful to say that the 
phenomena of the agreeableness of tone, as 
determined solely by the senses — I suppose he 
means the physiological selection of simple 
ratios — mark merely the first step toward the 
beautiful in music. Still, though he thus makes 
acoustics but a partial explanation, he appar- 
ently inclines to think that after all it independ- 
ently decides something. And he seems to sug- 
gest as the only needed supplement a mystical 
philosophy of mental mood. He seems at once 
to acknowledge and deny that discord joins 
with concord in producing effects ; for he makes 
the distress suffered by the auditory nerve from 
the 'beat' of incompatible tones, and its longing 
for the "pure efflux of the tones into har- 
mony," an immediate symbol of the demand for 
peace and rest of the musical imagination. 

Bosanquet would say that ether-wave is not 
directly a part of musical medium at all, though 
as physical cause it may determine a physical 
effect that is absorbed into music. But to be a 
part of musical medium, the least element must 
be already in its degree enjoyed, and there is no 
compulsion to enjoyment in simple mathemat- 



BOSANQUET ON ARTIST'S MEDIUM 53 

ical ratios. If aesthetic feeling is for the time 
being set in the direction of shock or incon- 
clusiveness or waywardness, then the vehicle 
of such an effect will be intervals or transitions 
or rhythms, that still have a mathematical 
equivalent of course, but for which there is no 
warrant in any a priori ratio. The decision 
rests throughout with feeling, and feeling 
knows no mathematics but only satisfying 
sound. 

The Bosanquetian argument so far may be 
summed up by saying that when matter enters 
as component into beauty, it is matter uniquely 
denned. Aesthetic feeling penetrates the last 
recesses of its physical instrument, so that 
matter in art is not the same thing as matter 
in science. But if when physical quality or 
substance enters into beauty, it is ab initio a 
part of beauty, then the question whether it can 
hinder beauty becomes unmeaning. The deter- 
mination has become a member, the limitation a 
capacity, the condition a resource. In working 
with glass cubes or worsted thrums, says 
William Morris, the limitations are many and 
rigid, but the limitations need not fetter the 
imagination. "You may conquer the obstinacy 
of your material . . . [and produce] a beauti- 



54 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

ful thing, which nothing but your struggle with 
difficulties could have brought forth." 13 The 
gleaming of the tesserae in the indestructible 
picture, the glitter of the gold, the wealth of 
color and softness of gradation in the inter- 
woven thrums of worsted are positive enhance- 
ments of effect mediated by negative weights 
of corporeality. Such an interpretation of the 
power of craft in the molding of matter is, I 
think, the heart of Bosanquet's philosophy of 
medium. 

Our philosopher's answer to the first extreme 
of opinion — that medium, being physical, is an 
impediment to the divine harmony and fine 
frenzy of beauty — already indicates the direc- 
tion his answer to the second extreme opinion 
will take. If the omnipotential principle of 
beauty can educate a mere physical condition 
into fruitful resource and active participation, 
then beauty would be maimed if the medium 
were gone, and that being true, medium cannot 
be indifferent to free expression. But this is 
anticipating an answer which has not been 
honestly won. By what process of dialectic 
would Bosanquet move away from the notion 
of medium as indifferency or transparency to 



BOSANQUET ON ARTIST'S MEDIUM 55 

the conception of it as an element in individu- 
ality? 

He admits that it is natural to believe that 
poetry operates in the bodiless medium of pure 
fancy because we discount the physical side 
of language. And it has seemed plausible to 
Croce and his followers to believe that the 
aesthetic experience begins and ends with 
imagination uncloyed by matter. The quality 
of artist requires, Croce says, that Raphael 
should have had a "sense of design and color" 
but not that he should have had hands. 14 
Everybody knows that sculptors often leave to 
a firm of contractors the transference of the 
model to bronze or marble. The architect often 
limits his function to the completion of a design 
and abandons its actualization to artisans. And 
with reference to the 'ideal' character of music 
one has the famous testimony of Mozart that 
for him invention was all as it were in a fine 
vivid dream, and that lively mental images did 
his work for him. 

Such instances seem to support the thesis 
that the whole reality of art is in the creative 
impulse, in the motion of mind anterior to the 
deposited product, in the active voice and not 
in the past participle. But the moral of the 



56 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

examples, taken by and large, Bosanquet would 
contend, is actually something else. 15 It is that 
an artist's medium may be so thoroughly assimi- 
lated by his understanding and feeling, its 
gradations and variations may to such an extent 
have become instinctive knowledge for him, 
that the grossness and passivity of it have gone 
and left only a net-work of relations. The 
matter of potentiality has become the form of 
actuality. And you cannot say that the medium 
has been volatilized in this process of its ration- 
alization and internalization. To say that is, 
once more, to beg the question whether or not 
the nature of matter is recalcitrant to and 
irremediably distinguished from the nature of 
mind. And in holding to the obstinately unideal 
character of matter, you neglect the definition 
of it in terms of the order and connection and 
behavior of its parts. The fact that a genius 
or a master-craftsman at the height of his 
power and knowledge achieves beauty without 
himself touching "the heavy matter and whole 
natural process of reality" means not that mat- 
ter and process are indifferent to artistic genius 
and masterly craftsmanship, but that they can 
be infected by spirit and exhibit its structure. 
The matter of an artist's medium can exist 



BOSANQUET ON ARTIST'S MEDIUM 57 

implicitly inside a person's head, and be none 
the less matter for that. 

If, indeed, there were not affinity between 
medium and design, how could we understand 
the embodiment that admittedly takes place, be 
it through the instrumentality of contractor, 
artisan, or interpreter ? How, if expression and 
materialization be not essentially one, can the 
latter be assumed to resemble the former ? How 
could you be sure that you played the genuine 
music of Mozart, when you interpreted it on 
the piano, if you did not believe that the quali- 
ties and capacities of the instrument operated 
virtually in his ecstacy of composition? If a 
dramatist's imagination were not furnished 
with true essence of stage — doors and windows, 
depths and properties — how could you explain 
the adaptability of a conceived play to a tiesh 
and blood stage? If embodiment is an utterly 
distinct mode of existence, if it is, as Croce 
says, a practical and economic event to ensure 
preservation and communication, there would 
seem to be no guarantee or explanation of the 
belief in the identity of what is intuited and 
what is preserved. 

From isolated cases of bodiless fancy, Bosan- 
quet says, you cannot infer the general separa- 



58 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

bility of mind and medium in art. The fancy 
is not so ethereal, after all, and body not so 
opaque. He would also say that when artistic 
creation is in process and the texture of the 
projected work still somewhat loose, you can 
often get ocular proof, as it were, of the organic 
relation of medium to inspiration. You can 
then almost feel the conation of the physical 
substratum, as if it possessed a kind of individ- 
uality and provisional capacity for self-direc- 
tion. If you dye very much, Morris says, you 
call a vat 'her.' And he describes the almost 
personal quality of metal or clay or glass as it 
springs into shape or comes alive in your hands. 
In the same spirit Milton says that in true 
eloquence the words of an orator are "like so 
many nimble and airy servitors (that) trip 
about him at command, and in well-ordered 
files, as he would wish, fall aptly into their own 
places." 16 The well-known story of the com- 
position of Poe's Raven doubtless gives artifi- 
cial emphasis to the quasi-independent but 
'ideal' functioning of medium because of the 
self-consciousness of Poe's attitude, but it 
accents rather than falsifies a principle. Here, 
as Poe tells us, the seduction of a melancholy 
refrain and the dynamic property of the sound 



BOSANQUET ON ARTIST'S MEDIUM 59 

"evermore" got his inventive faculty in train 
and led to the formation of the poetic structure. 
In many poems, though one may not know 
historically how the element of medium oper- 
ated in the poet's mind, one can isolate the dis- 
tinctive contribution, the irreducible status, of 
certain sounds. Witness the music of chivalry in 

knights of Logres, or of Lyones, 
Lancelot, or Pelleas, or Pellenore 

and, at the opposite extreme of dignity, the 
sprightliness of the bare jingle in 

Waddle goes your gait, and hollow are your hose ; 
Noddle goes your pate, and purple is your nose ; 
Merry is your sing-song, happy, gay, and free ; 
With a merry ding-dong, happy let us be ! 

The whole notion that because beauty is for 
the mind and in the mind, therefore it is not for 
the body and in the body follows, Bosanquet 
believes, from a "lean idealism." It is easy to 
show how essential imagination is to art, but, 
he says, things are no more incomplete without 
minds than minds are without things. "Our 
resources in the way of sensation, and our 
experience in the way of satisfactory and unsat- 
isfactory feeling are all won out of our inter- 
course with things, and are thought and imag- 



60 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

ined by us as qualities and properties of the 
things." "Complete imagination demands ex- 
ternality. . . . Hamlet as a poem in Shaks- 
pere's imagination is already a fusion and 
incarnation of Shakspere's spirit in features 
of the external world, forms of verse, forms of 
language; 'ringing words,' as Croce well says. 
... A Hamlet which is less than this is not 
Hamlet. A Hamlet which is as much as this 
has sprung from an imagination wedded to the 
spoken language of England, schooled and 
inspired by its energy and sonorousness. A 
poem without its sound, I must maintain, is 
incomplete as a work of imagination. Shaks- 
pere was taught and disciplined by the spirit 
which lived in England and in English speech. 
Without this externality there could be no 
Hamlet. To say that externality as a category 
of spirit involves a dualism is to say that it is 
a dualism when the musician's work is inter- 
preted by the full orchestra. . . . To treat this 
performance as a practical means for ensuring 
the preservation and communication of an 
imagined beauty separate from it, is surely the 
very feeble expedient of a philosophy which 
finds itself trying to put asunder what the 
universe has joined together." 17 



BOSANQUET ON ARTIST'S MEDIUM 61 

We have come out then in considering the 
second extreme opinion just where we came out 
in considering the first. If medium is not dead 
stuff, excluded a priori from participation in the 
life of mind, it can neither be totally opposed 
to nor wholly indifferent to artistic expression. 
The more you think about medium and work in 
it, the more its plasticity appears, the more it 
cooperates, and rises to occasions, and suggests 
new uses of itself. Body comes alive and turns 
spirit, even while it remains characteristically 
itself. And when you get mobility and capacity 
in matter, a working connection between parts, 
then, according to Bosanquet, mind has sprung 
up "like a tender shoot" at the foot of matter, 
and the pattern of all antinomies is resolved. 



Ill 

BERGSON'S PENAL THEORY OF 
COMEDY 

Neyther doeth it appeare that the other sort of Jestes 
is of any grace without that litle bitynge. — Castiglione, 
The Courtier. 

Doubtless one reason why Bergson's theory 
of the comic has been popular is that he agrees 
with the majority in thinking logic has little to 
do with laughter. He feels that the spice and 
piquancy of wit elude the careful schematism 
of definitions. Intellectual analyses, articulat- 
ing the zest of fun into some abstract relation, 
into a patent absurdity or incongruity, do not 
in the least explain, he contends, why such a 
relationship makes us laugh. "How, indeed, 
should it come about that this particular logical 
relation, as soon as it is perceived, contracts, 
expands and shakes our limbs?" 1 "Matters dis- 
agreeing in themselves" may be the sole occas- 
ion of laughter, but where is the good empiricist 
who will tell why these disagreeing matters 
"take the veins, the eyes, the mouth, and the 
sides, and seem as though they would make us 
burst?" Why should caricatures, bringing 



BERGSON'S PENAL THEORY 63 

together in a single representation the charac- 
teristic appearance of a man and the character- 
istic appearance of a beast, do more than sug- 
gest to us some connection of similarity or dis- 
similarity between classes of animals? Why 
should there be the surplusage of amusement? 
Why should Dogberry's "Masters, remember 
that I am an ass ; though it be not written down, 
yet forget not that I am an ass" engage our 
sense of humor as well as our faculty of under- 
standing? If we hope to understand the whole 
of laughter, Bergson believes that we must con- 
sider what sort of an empirical body the soul 
of logical incongruity is mated with, and why 
the human organism is inwardly moved and 
warmed by an externally-subsisting contrast. 
To identify the humorous with the absurd or 
grotesque or fantastic, with some fusion of 
incompatibles or distortion of normal propor- 
tions, and to allow this mere form of inconsis- 
tency to define for us the aesthetic species of the 
comic, irrespective of particular embodiment or 
psychological effect, is, he thinks, to trust 
naively to remote speculation for concrete 
explanation. 

Bergson, then, rejects "the scholar's excogi- 
tation of the comic" because it seems to him to 



64 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

miss the richness and force of the thing itself. 
For such barren analysis he would substitute 
"practical intimate acquaintance" and "long 
companionship" with the life of the comic spirit 
and with its individual manifestations. This 
friendly intimacy is, he thinks, better calculated 
to yield a true impression of the complete fact 
and solid effectual reality of laughter. Now in 
the light of immediate experience the incon- 
gruity theory of comedy shows itself to him 
not so much absolutely wrong as thin. The 
abstract absurdity must be thickened up with 
some sensuous matter, and matter of a pre- 
scribed kind. The empty terms of the dispro- 
portion must be painted in with the positive and 
complementary hues of life and mechanism, 
man and thing. "We laugh every time a person 
gives us the impression of being a thing," 2 — for 
example, at Sancho Panza wrapped in a bed- 
quilt and tossed through the air like a football 
or at M. Perrichon's enumeration of the mem- 
bers of his family as if they were mere items in 
his list of parcels: "four, five, six, my wife 
seven, my daughter eight, and myself nine." 
For Bergson, the human and mechanical, ani- 
mate and inanimate are, so to speak, the second- 
ary qualities of the comical object. 



BERGSON'S PENAL THEORY 65 

But this is not the climax of his description. 
Bergson's intention of painting comedy to the 
life carries him further than the specifying of 
the content of the contrasted elements. Comedy 
may be composed of the incompatible qualities 
of life and mechanism, but what makes this 
type of incongruity feel funny to us? In the 
definition of comedy you cannot cut off the 
amusing situation, out there in space as it 
seems, with its varied colors and clear outlines, 
from the engaged mind of the man who laughs. 
The conception of the pleased individual "shak- 
ing both his sides" or, it may be, laughing 
through his teeth, cannot be omitted from a 
satisfying account of the various members of 
the comedy family. The process of reflective 
concretion moves you steadily inward from 
the grotesquerie on the choir-stall or the missal 
margin, the anticking clown and mocking tricks 
of the stage or novel, to the general unified 
efTect these presentations make on the percip- 
ient; for it is part of the being of an aesthetic 
object — its tertiary quality, if you like — to 
affect the human sensorium in an inclusive 
characteristic fashion. And it is this general 
sense of comedy, the precise way in which it is 
involved with the mind of man and felt by 



66 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

him, the end for which it is begotten and toward 
which it is directed in actual history, which 
Bergson regards as the chief element in the 
description. Above all, he says, to understand 
laughter, we must understand its function. 
Comedy may be woven ingeniously out of 
warp of life and woof of things, but why are 
we ever moved to weave at all? What part 
does the fact of comedy play in the whole econ- 
omy of human life ? What feeling does it satisfy 
and embody ? What purpose do its incongruities 
subserve? That is the final inquiry, Bergson 
believes, which clinches our understanding of 
the meaning and value of laughter. 

If then, we ask Bergson, not of what comedy 
is made, nor how it is pieced together, but what 
in the last resort it means or intends, what is 
the name of its "utility and function," he would 
answer: It means punishment. "Laughter is," 
he says, "above all, a corrective." 3 It was con- 
ceived in the spirit of social discipline. In com- 
edy we rejoice to behold the fitting chastisement 
of petty folly and stupidity; it is agreeable to 
us to dash down from the human place the 
swaggering pretence of the human. "Being 
intended to humiliate, it must make a painful 
impression on the person against whom it is 



BERGSON'S PENAL THEORY 67 

directed. By laughter, society avenges itself for 
the liberties taken with it." 4 "[Laughter's] 
function is to intimidate by humiliating. Now 
it would not succeed in doing this, had not 
nature implanted for that very purpose, even 
in the best of men, a spark of spitefulness, or 
at all events, of mischief." 5 "Society holds sus- 
pended over each individual member . . . the 
prospect of a snubbing, which, although it is 
slight, is none the less dreaded. Such must be 
the function of laughter. Always rather humili- 
ating for the one against whom it is directed, 
laughter is really and truly a kind of social 
'ragging.' " 6 Here we have it. The church and 
courts administer the punishment of deadly 
sins; comedy, the punishment of venial ones; 
but the principle of censure runs continuous 
from the one to the other. For Bergson, comedy 
is practically identical with satire. 

I think we tend to feel a certain treachery 
in this final word of Bergson's. Here is a phil- 
osopher who has announced the intention of 
sticking to experience in his theorizing and of 
rendering the comic actuality in its fullness. 
Comedy is to include for him both the object 
of human laughter with all its colors and char- 
acters retained, and the motive to it. Now how- 



68 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

ever much running back and forth between ex- 
perience and theory there may be in the devel- 
opment of the idea of mecanisme plaque sur 
la vie, it surely is not faithfulness to fact — so 
our protest goes — to tell us that comedy is essen- 
tially for the sake of punishment. As inter- 
preted by the general sense of mankind, 
laughter, whatever else it is, is the issue of a 
light heart, and for the sake of joy. For this 
general sense of man, the 'nipping bourd' is a 
branch and not the main trunk of the tree. 

If here, as I believe, the protest of common 
sense has truth in it, and chimes with that 
reflective common sense which we usually call 
philosophy, at the same time it is true that in 
identifying comedy with satire, Bergson merely 
caps a long tradition. Plato's attribution of the 
pain of malice to the experience of the comic 
and Hobbes' famous definition of laughter as 
the sign of triumph over infirmities simply 
mark two high points in a persistent opinion. 
And Bergson's position is substantially sup- 
ported not only by theories of comedy in the 
history of aesthetic, but by cases of comedy in 
the history of dramatic writing. It is conven- 
tional to say that while the Old Comedy in 
Athens allowed personal invective and abuse — 



BERGSON'S PENAL THEORY 69 

satire clearly — the New Comedy was different 
and milder in spirit. Yet Alciphron makes Gly- 
cera write to her friend Bacchis : "I would give 
a great deal not to lose the love of Menander. 
If we had any tiff or any quarrel, I should 
have to undergo the bitter insults of a Chremes 
or of a Pheidylus in the theatre." 7 Shakspere's 
comedy is classed as peculiarly genial. And 
relatively it is. Yet in The Merry Wives Shaks- 
pere humiliates the hero of Henry IV, and the 
attitude he induces us to take up toward Mal- 
volio and Dogberry and the Shrew, perhaps 
even toward Miranda, is not so much light- 
hearted and sympathetic, as superior and patron- 
izing. Our amusement is not without its touch 
of sneering. The irony of Socrates is, on the 
whole, gentle and universal in application; yet 
his irony has its immediate and particular ref- 
erence to the vain pretensions of the Sophists, 
and it is not entirely inaccurate to think of the 
Socratic irony simply as the derision of these 
penny-wise-men. "My God," he exclaims with 
mock reverence, after two of them have 
announced themselves as experts on virtue, 
"Where did you learn that? If you really have 
this knowledge, pray forgive me : I address you 
as I would superior beings, and ask you to par- 



70 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

don the impiety of my former expressions." 8 
Indeed, it is impossible to deny that the comic 
spirit has been abundantly embodied in cutting 
satire. If you abstract from literary comedy the 
punishment of the false steps of mankind, 
"abuses stripped and whipped," according to 
Bergson's prescription, the trouncing of stu- 
pidity, the exposure of legal wiles, medical pom- 
posity, religious hypocrisy, economic greed, 
romantic extravagance, aristocratic arrogance, 
and ignorant presumption, you take away most 
of it. 

Let it be granted, then, that Bergson's iden- 
tification of comedy with social punishment 
represents a persistent and potent tradition. 
Let it also be granted that satire contains an 
animus which is instinctively felt to set it apart 
from genial laughter. What is the internal 
logic of this identification and this distinction? 

At the very beginning it is clear that satire 
and humor spring from different sentiments 
about the relationship of human beings to each 
other. In ordinary satire we seem to hold our 
fellowman at arm's length, survey him from 
without, apprehend by pure cold process of ob- 
servation and intellection his blemishes and ab- 
normalities, exploit them or mock them or lash 



BERGSON'S PENAL THEORY 71 

them — do anything, in a word, but imagine 
them penetratingly and sympathize with them. 
The Bergsonian comedy demands, as our author 
himself puts it, a momentary anaesthesia of the 
heart. How utterly this anaesthesia may "pet- 
rify the feelings and harden a' within" is illus- 
trated by Oscar Wilde's tragic tale of The 
Birthday of the Infanta. The grotesque exter- 
ior of the little rustic dwarf is the one thing 
pertinent to the royal child's laughter. It never 
occurs to her that the odd creature is emotion- 
ally susceptible like the rest of humanity; and 
as a result, while she laughs, his heart breaks. 
In "laughter without offence," on the other 
hand, there is either no sense of human parti- 
cipation at all, but mere joy in the formal clash 
of sensations or ideas or points of view, or else 
there is the feeling that this particular jest is 
absolutely catholic. The schoolmasterly spirit 
of superior isolation apparently animates the 
one, the holiday spirit, the other. Bergson 
speaks, indeed, of the necessarily social charac- 
ter of laughter, but this "society" of his is an 
exclusive parish, so that the principle of the 
separateness of human beings is plainly adhered 
to. "The circle remains ... a closed one." 9 
So — at least at the first glance — satire seems 



72 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

to imply a metaphysic of windowless monads, 
the monads being the laughers, and the missing 
windows, the gift of penetrative imagination; 
and its theory of the alter to be the one pre- 
supposed in the Master of Philosophy's direc- 
tion for the pronunciation of the letter U, in 
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme: "The vowel U is 
formed by bringing the teeth close to each other 
without allowing them to close : U. . . . Your 
lips are drawn backward as if you were making 
a mouth; whence it comes that if you wish to 
mock someone you have only to say to him, U." 
The theory of personality underlying humor is 
different. For sympathetic laughter you must 
believe in the sightless substance of a common 
mind. You may smile at the fool, in humor, 
but you must at the same time feel : "There, but 
for the grace of God, go I." 

Now if the appeal of satire is particular and 
not universal, if its laughter is the laughter of 
the censorious schoolmaster or exclusive class, 
a serious question arises as to its title as a species 
of art. For the principle of artistic taste is 
not like the preference for tea or turnips, but 
like the acquiescence in a mathematical demon- 
stration. The artistic form which cannot claim 
universality or necessity is designed to appeal 



BERGSON'S PENAL THEORY 73 

rather to opinion or impression than to reason- 
able feeling. But the ridicule conveyed by 
satire is notoriously brittle. The passing of a 
generation, a stout demand for evidence from 
the opposing party, will break its force. "Fash- 
ions change," says a commentator on Butler's 
Hudibras, "the bogies of one epoch become 
the heroes of the next, and what yesterday was 
apt and humorous is balderdash and out of date 
tomorrow. That which we praise in Butler 
now is that for which two centuries ago no 
man regarded him." 10 Butler wrote for the 
Court and the crowd of the Restoration, and 
gave them the stuff they liked. His scourging 
of the Puritans had but half justice to support 
it. What lives of his comic performance is not 
any social service he rendered or condign pun- 
ishment he inflicted, but the formal properties 
of his wit, the manipulation of his fable, and 
perhaps — as we shall see — an ideal satire. If 
the value of comedy rested on the propriety of 
a chastisement applied to a class of actual human 
beings, Hudibras would be dead, for a proper 
historical perspective instructs us to speak 
respectfully if not affectionately of the Puri- 
tans. Or who could claim that the merit of 
Aristophanes is his humiliation of Socrates or 



74 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

Euripides? In so far as the point of the fun 
in the Clouds is the vilification of the real Socra- 
tes, it yields in persuasiveness, for us, to the 
comic genius which inspired Socrates to stand 
up at its presentation to make more visible the 
butt. Nor is the satire of Moliere, great as it 
is, convincing for all minds and all times. Doubt- 
less in Moliere's mind Madame Jourdain repre- 
sented timeless good sense and M. Jourdain an 
immortal kind of folly. Yet so much a matter 
of mode is that standard of decorum from 
which the satirical thrust, as commonly under- 
stood, proceeds, that to Madame Jourdain's 
gibe at her husband: "I should like to know 
what you expect to do with a dancing master 
at your age. . . . Do you wish to learn to 
dance for the time when you have no legs?" 
we could now quite firmly reply, linking in one 
the ancient Greek and the contemporary Amer- 
ican attitude: "Though hoary-headed, yet we 
dance." 

The instability of satire is a familiar idea 
and can be illustrated ad infinitum. Greater 
knowledge and a better perspective are con- 
stantly changing our laughing scorn to pity or 
respect or cool insight; for the normal setting 
of satire is hard and dry, not expansive or self- 



BERGSON'S PENAL THEORY 75 

critical or flexible. Shift the emphasis, enlarge 
the angle of observation, and the comedy, in so 
far as it means the humiliation of some partic- 
ular person or persons, goes out. It is this 
kind of comedy that Hardy has in mind when, 
after describing the absurd zigzaging of Tess's 
drunken father, he remarks that it produced a 
comical effect, and adds that, like most comical 
effects, it was not so comic after all. Thought- 
ful writers, from Plato down, have not only per- 
ceived the fragility and subjectivity of the satiri- 
cal form, but have noted the kinship of comedy 
with tragedy. It is a common observation that, 
should the curtain that has just dropped on a 
comic action rise again, it would disclose a 
tragedy. 

But surely the whole theory of comedy does 
not rest on such a weak foundation as the exal- 
tation into beauty of the arbitrary impression 
of a particular blemish. Surely, so the claim of 
Bergson's party will be, satire at its best is 
aimed at a universal human failing, and achieves 
genuine objectivity. The object of ridicule, so 
the argument runs, is not flesh and blood people, 
who are always better than their squint-eyed 
contemporaries realize, but certain abstract 
qualities, such as greed or cowardice or hypoc- 



76 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

risy. And these qualities can be true causes of 
behavior in persons, though real persons are 
always more than the embodiment of a quality. 
Hudibras, for example, is not directed against 
the whole body of Puritans, but against the 
Puritan, qua hypocrite. And the Clouds is simi- 
larly directed against Socrates, qua quibbler. 
In Le Malade Imaginadre Moliere claims for 
himself this extenuation of abstraction: "It is 
not the doctors themselves that he takes off, 
but the absurdity of medicine." And there 
is support for this interpretation of satire 
in Bergson's own essay; for at one point he 
distinguishes tragedy from comedy by say- 
ing that the former deals with individuals, the 
latter with types. By way of proof he calls 
attention to the titles of certain well-known 
comedies: Le Misanthrope, VAvare, le Joueur, 
le Distrait. "Even when a character comedy 
has a proper noun as its title," he says, "this 
proper noun is speedily swept away by the very 
weight of its contents into the stream of com- 
mon nouns." 11 We immediately think in this 
context of the New Comedy in Athens with its 
stock characters, its reflection of the spirit of 
Theophrastus, and its influence cast forward 
on Latin comedy, of comedies of manners in 



BERGSON'S PENAL THEORY 77 

which artificial modes of behavior are the peo- 
ple of the stage, of satires of nations and pro- 
fessions in which conventions represent groups 
of individuals, of Ben Jonson's Alchemist and 
Every Man in his Humor. Who but antiquar- 
ians particularly care at the present time that in 
Gulliver's Travels certain of the Lilliputian 
courtiers probably stand for Lord Harcourt, 
the Duke of Ormond, and Lord Oxford? On 
the other hand, the relevance of Swift's satire 
to the general human vices of quackery, the 
abuse of learning, and political fatuity never 
grows old. Have we then searched out the 
source of the artistic universality of satire, and 
its necessary connection with laughter, in this 
notion of the type as its material? 

We might perhaps think of laughter as pro- 
gressing toward a limit of idealization as the 
analysis of human nature becomes more pene- 
trating. All the springs of evil in human con- 
duct might be condensed into the one or two 
or three absolute vices eternally worthy of cari- 
cature. Ruskin had a theory that all faults re- 
duced to the two of idleness and cruelty. And 
in Meredith's Egoist the finger of scorn is 
pointed at a kind of universal form of the bad 
will — a literary analogue, so we might fancy, 



78 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

of Kant's good will. In this way satires might 
appear to us in the light of Morality Plays with 
vices (endued with personal names and stage- 
costumes) making thorough fools of them- 
selves for our edification. Thus, having puri- 
fied satire from all possibility of error or partic- 
ularity of application, we have simultaneously 
abandoned the real show of life as the material 
of comic presentation, and people like ourselves 
— neither wholly good nor wholly bad — as the 
dramatis personae. 

But on second thought the process of ideali- 
zation does not seem necessarily to involve the 
discarding of the real world and its human in- 
habitants. In a sense our new comedy is more 
realistic than direct personal caricature. For the 
more thoughtful the satire and the more it is 
the work of the imagination rather than of 
external observation, the more the exhibition 
reveals — not to be sure the accidents of exis- 
tence and the chance examples of an animal 
species — but even so, the truths of human 
nature. For the comic artist has uncovered 
the weaknesses of which man is made. If, 
as was just suggested, Meredith's Egoist may 
be taken as illustrating extreme formalism in 
irony, it may also at the same time be taken 



BERGSON'S PENAL THEORY 79 

as illustrating extreme realism. Stevenson 
tells the story of someone's exclaiming to 
Meredith : "This is too bad of you. Willoughby 
is me!" and of Meredith's replying: "No, my 
dear fellow, he is all of us." Barrie's Senti- 
mental Tommy is, in intention, that same haunt- 
ing and ubiquitous Everyman. 

The difficulty for the theory of comedy now 
is that, having arrived at universality of refer- 
ence and having so qualified satire as art, we 
can no longer laugh. It is a serious matter to 
attend the exposure of our own foibles and 
vices. Even Moliere's Thomas Diaphoirus, 
silly as he was, had a better notion of amuse- 
ment than that, for it was the dissection of 
another person's body, and not the vivisection 
of her own spirit which he designed as enter- 
tainment for his fiancee. The more general the 
criticism becomes, and the more acute the analy- 
sis, and the juster the chastisement — why then 
the more ineluctable the relevance of the scorn 
to ourselves and the more depressing the affec- 
tive tone of the whole performance. Even in 
personal invective, as Plato pointed out, the 
pleasure of superiority is modified by the pain 
of malice, but in connection with these appall- 
ingly subtle formal-real-comedy-morality plays 



80 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

one can imagine for the spectator no ameliora- 
tion of the pain. The mood that would match 
the object could only be sober reflection, re- 
morse, cynicism regarding the very structure 
of human nature. We have tracked satire home, 
so to speak, and we are farther than ever from 
the genial spirit we sought. No wonder Berg- 
son says that the more a laugher analyzes his 
laughter the more he finds in it bitterness and 
the beginnings of a curious pessimism. 12 If 
our argument has been sound, the theory of 
comedy as satire issues, so far, in a dilemma: 
If comedy is satire, it is either particular and 
subjective and therefore not art; or it is uni- 
versal and valid, and then not merry. 

But there may yet be a way out through 
satire to a more satisfactory definition of 
comedy. What Hegel calls the extreme aridity 
of satire is relieved in the case of the more 
resourceful and creative of comic artists by an 
expedient which we have as yet scarcely noted. 
The playful spirit, the mood of complete free- 
dom and relaxation which we feel to be implied 
in the very idea of comedy, is not necessarily 
wholly expelled by the dominant practical and 
moral aim of satire. In spite of the medicine 
at the center, it may show a pleasing outside 



BERGSON'S PENAL THEORY 81 

of fable and conceit. It is part of the excel- 
lence of the Aristophanic comedy, it seems to 
me, that it abounds in baskets swung in the air 
and cloud-cuckoo-towns and frogs and wasps 
which divert the mind from a serious tenden- 
tial attitude. Yet so distinguished a critic as 
Hazlitt accounts the predominance of Shaks- 
pere's poetical fancy over his satire a fault in 
his comic muse. 13 And of course if the essence 
of comedy is punishment rather than frivolity 
and topsy-turvydom, this opinion holds. Our 
laughter on this hypothesis would be more 
sound and solid without the elfish tricks and 
fairy courts, the desert islands and ideal forests, 
the Malapropisms and nonsense verses. Luc- 
ian's auction, Swift's Lilliputians and Houyhn- 
hnms, Cervantes' whole "machinery of dreamed 
invention" detract on this view from the comic 
genius of the works in which they figure. But 
we cannot get away from the fact that what is 
intimately enjoyed in these works today is not 
the justice of a rebuke nor the success of a 
humiliation, but the shell and scaffolding and 
decorative detail of fancy. The allegories and 
similes, the distortions and inversions, the quips 
and pranks, which perhaps originally merely 
served to pick out and set off a moral lesson, are 



82 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

now almost exalted into the total aesthetic sig- 
nificance. 

As the analysis of satire drove us, for the 
time being, to a conception of it as a formal 
construction dealing with abstract vices and 
follies, so the consideration of the fanciful ele- 
ment in comedy forces us, again perhaps tem- 
porarily, toward an interest in form and away 
from the notion of art as representation of life. 
When the spirit of sport is freed from any prac- 
tical obligation, it tends to express itself at first 
in senseless absurdities and fictions and incon- 
gruities which have no justification beyond 
themselves, and no "meaning" except the shock 
of contrasts they produce and feeling for per- 
verse utterance they satisfy. The simple humor 
of mediaeval grotesques is a case in point. 
Everybody thinks of puns as, in their way, 
jokes, and nobody ever thought, I suppose, that 
they were calculated to do good or to fulfill a 
function. We feel release in Alice in Wonder- 
land and Through the Looking-Glass because 
every possible normal meaning and proper sig- 
nificance is danced upon and jumbled up with its 
opposite and because in such a line as 

"T was brillig, and the slithey toves" 



BERGSON'S PENAL THEORY 83 

there is even elaborate mockery of the very 
pretence of meaning in language. And when 
Strauss put sheep in his Don Quixote and Men- 
delssohn elicited a donkey out of the elements 
of music, what social good was aimed at, or 
what was punished except the whole normal 
rhyme and rhythm of art? When you begin 
to identify the comic with fancy, you begin to 
wonder if the comic experience is not the for- 
mal experience par excellence. For at times 
the joy generated by the extravagances and dis- 
tortions of fanciful humor seems to have no 
explanation except the satisfaction of an ulti- 
mate perversity. The goal of such humor seems 
to be to confound the very basis of regular logic, 
the very habit of meaning, the very instinct for 
connected content. It seems to have no sense 
beyond the boldness of its senselessness. And 
it is true that one strain in the theory of comedy 
justifies this view of its essential formality, as 
in the notion that laughter is the result of an 
expectation which of a sudden ends in nothing, 
or that it is the indication of an effort which 
suddenly encounters a void. Thus after long 
wanderings our argument seems to be coming 
full circle and to be returning to that simple 



84 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

definition of the comic, initially rejected by 
Bergson, as the incongruous. 

And yet is it inevitable that genial and dis- 
interested comedy should be wholly ideal or 
wholly transcendent? It is necessary, appar- 
ently, that if fancy is to operate playfully with 
human beings some incongruities should be 
searched out within the four walls of mankind 
which do not commit us, in their representation, 
to any cramping obligation. But as in satire the 
limit of formalism — the comic Moralities — un- 
veiled itself secondarily as piercing realism, so 
with the comedy of fancy. The last degree of 
incongruity is within man himself. In a sense, 
fancy can create no greater absurdity than the 
rational animal. And contemplation of the 
infinite-finite paradox in man cannot give rise 
to any urge for reform because nothing can be 
done about it. You cannot by taking thought 
add to your stature or dissolve away the attri- 
butes of mortality. But survey with serene 
detachment all the qualities of finitude — the 
body with its grossness and sex, as Rabelais and 
Chaucer have surveyed it, the limitations of 
knowledge and perspective that result from our 
fallible sense-organs, the absorbed conventions 
of civilization, death itself — and view them 



BERGSON'S PENAL THEORY 85 

against the background of man's metaphysical 
pretensions, his sense of his eternal hope and 
calling, and you achieve a picture of the irre- 
mediable and absolute incongruity. If the comic 
poet does not quite say with St. Evremond 

There's nothing new 

And there's nothing true 
And it doesn't matter at all; 

he says something very like it. He says, at 
least, that there is no one who calls himself 
wise who is wise, and no one who claims virtue 
who possesses it, and that the juxtaposition of 
clay feet and golden head on this earth is amus- 
ing. It is, I suppose, as Sterne suggests, to 
afford us a sense of the ultimate humor of life 
that learned men write dialogues on long noses. 
And one might add to Sterne's suggestion that 
that is why bishops ride on asses and philos- 
ophers fall into pits. 

The height of humorous nonchalance and of 
the expression of incongruity is achieved by 
Falstaff, whom Hegel calls the absolute comic 
hero. Everything moral and serious and finite, 
everything devised by man in his secret longing 
for better things, becomes for the genius of Fal- 
staff, not, as Bradley rightly says, his enemy, 



86 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

but his plaything, to be tossed about and turned 
upside down and indecorously placed for the 
appeasement of an omnivorous and conscience- 
less and illogical fancy. Everything that im- 
poses limits and obligations, "and makes us the 
subject of old father antic the law, and the cate- 
gorical imperative, and our station and its du- 
ties, and conscience, and reputation, and other 
people's opinions, and all sorts of nuisances 
. . . are to [FalstafI] absurd; and to reduce a 
thing ad absurdum is to reduce it to nothing 
and to walk about free and rejoicing. . . . He 
will make truth appear absurd by solemn state- 
ments, which he utters with perfect gravity and 
which he expects nobody to believe; and honor 
by demonstrating that it cannot set a leg, and 
that neither the living nor the dead possess it; 
and law, by evading all the attacks of its highest 
representative and almost forcing him to laugh 
at his own defeat; and patriotism, by filling his 
pockets with the bribes of competent soldiers 
who want to escape service, while he takes in 
their stead the halt and the maimed and the 
gaol-birds ; and duty, by showing how he labors 
in his vocation — of thieving ; . . . and religion, 
by amusing himself with remorse at odd times 
when he has nothing else to do ; and the fear of 



BERGSON'S PENAL THEORY 87 

death, by maintaining perfectly untouched, in 
the face of imminent peril and even when he 
feels the fear of death, the very same power of 
dissolving it in persiflage that he shows when he 
sits at ease in his inn. These are the wonder- 
ful achievements which he performs not with 
the sourness of a cynic, but with the gaiety of 
a boy." 14 

The same quality of comic spirit, though with 
less magnitude and fertility, is possessed by 
Granfer Cantle in The Return of the Native. 
He will be "jowned" if he cares for the strait- 
laced ones who rebuke his levity in old age; 
he will go horn-piping when he is seventy ; and 
his gay fault of rakishness he condones by say- 
ing that age will cure it. 

The vantage-ground won and held by such 
characters is difficult of achievement, and we 
get relatively few presentations of it. Such 
humor involves sweeping the whole range of 
finite fact and inevitable-seeming attitudes of 
the "world of claims and counter-claims" into 
a common receptacle and contrasting the entire 
humbled accumulation with the level of mind on 
which one feels secure because one no longer 
cares practically about any of these things — 
even one's own death. In Plato's phrase, the 



88 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

comic spirit flies all abroad, and disdains the 
littlenesses and nothings of mankind. If, as 
the allusion suggests, the temper of humor is 
close to that of philosophical wisdom, it is also 
close to that of religion. For the essence of 
religion is salvation — salvation from fear and 
the bondage of death, and all enslaving things. 
And the key-word of comedy now appears to 
us to be just detachment or relaxation — not as 
Bergson would have it, punishment or correc- 
tion — but the ultimately happy frame of mind 
and hale condition of soul. When we lay down 
a book of true humor, Jean Paul says, we hate 
neither the world nor ourselves the less for hav- 
ing read it, but we have recovered for the time 
being the attitude of children. Any figured 
incongruity will symbolize the necessary detach- 
ment from the normal laws of life and logic, but 
only the incongruity of the finite and infinite 
will perfectly incorporate it. 



IV 

THE ONE AND THE MANY IN 
CROCE'S AESTHETIC 

I will sing one one-e-ry. 
What is your one-e-ry? 
One and One is all alone, and evermore shall be so. 

— English Folksong. 

"Beauty is a universal which contains indi- 
viduals but no species." 1 The English writer on 
aesthetics, Mr. E. F. Carritt, thus succinctly 
summarizes Croce's logic of aesthetics. Croce 
himself sets forth his characteristic position on 
the organization of beauty under the title "Indi- 
visibility of Expression into Modes or Degrees." 
He says: "A classification of intuition-expres- 
sions ... is not philosophical: individual 
expressive facts are so many individuals, not 
one of which is interchangeable with another, 
save in its common quality of expression. To 
employ the language of the schools : expression 
is a species which cannot function in its turn as 
a genus." 2 Although Croce and his interpreter 
use the scholastic terms, universal, genus, and 
species, a little differently, the two men employ 



90 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

them to the same logical end : the denial of the 
existence of real classes within the world of 
beauty. If this characterization of beauty be 
true, it follows not only that the nature of art 
is different from what many philosophers have 
supposed it to be, but, further than this, a sig- 
nificant assertion has been made about the gen- 
eral structure of reality. 

The first impulse is to agree with the affirm- 
ation, at least in so far as it involves a direct 
interpretation of beauty and does not seem to 
imply any metaphysics. Nothing seems truer 
to the lover or creator or sympathetic interpre- 
ter of beauty than the assertion that each work 
of art or each experience of beauty is sui gen- 
eris,, and therefore not generic in the strict 
sense at all. The attempt to dissect or gener- 
alize about realities which present such an im- 
pressive front of unity and perfection strikes 
one as of the nature of a violation or misappre- 
hension. "If we insist on asking for the mean- 
ing of ... a poem, we can only be answered 
Tt means itself.' " 3 Subtleties of analysis ap- 
plied to a lyric by George Herbert or Christina 
Rossetti are felt to be impertinent. Analysis, 
it appears to us, can do nothing but detract 
from the full compass of enjovment which sim- 



CROCE'S AESTHETIC 91 

pie abandonment to the unique utterance in- 
duces. It seems as graceless an act to philoso- 
phize about a moving drama as to analyze in 
cold blood the character of a friend. The con- 
struction of a system of classes and the assign- 
ment of a Madonna or a sonata to its proper 
category jars on our sensibilities. The wrong 
thing has been done. Sure taste has not been 
operative. Meddling rationalists have entered 
a sphere where they have no right to be. "Lit- 
erature being literature, and philosophy philos- 
ophy, you can never understand or account for 
literature ... by considering it in terms of 
philosophy." 4 

This is the instinctive feeling of those who 
know and love the beautiful, and in its general 
intention this unreflective conviction is shared 
by the reflective. That art is always concrete, 
that abstract intellection can never grasp its 
individuality — these are the postulates alike of 
the aesthetic temper and of philosophy under- 
stood as the embodiment of the penetrative 
imagination. It is to this view of art as a uni- 
verse of irreducible individuals that Croce's 
aesthetic appears to furnish a special canon. 
While it is true that Croce explicitly affirms this 
view in an extreme form, the majority of phil- 






92 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

osophers, it is important to remember, would 
concur in the fundamental principle. Even 
Bosanquet — on the whole a hostile witness, for 
he thinks that ultimately Croce shatters the 
unity of the mind — appreciates at its full value 
the impulse toward simplification and purifica- 
tion which inspires Croce's banishment of 
stereotyped classes from aesthetics. And Mr. 
Carritt's approval is whole-souled: "Nothing 
has so stultified criticism and appreciation as 
the supposed necessity of first determining the 
genus and species of beauty. To ask in face of 
a work of art whether it is a religious painting 
or a portrait, a problem play or a melodrama, 
post-cubist or pre-futurist, is as ingenuous a 
confession of aesthetic bankruptcy as to de- 
mand its title or its subject. The true motive 
of such a quest has always been the discovery 
of rules and canons which shall save us the 
trouble of a candid impression. . . . The re- 
sult has always been sterility and dullness." 5 

Croce does not mean to imply by his denial of 
the reality of artistic kinds and classes that 
there is no sense in which distinctions can be 
drawn between groups of artistic forms. His 
contention is merely that such divisions have no 
philosophical value: they are arbitrary group- 



CROCE'S AESTHETIC 93 

ings for practical purposes. Of course, the 
mere fact of the differentiation of art testifies to 
some end subserved, however subjective or 
transient that service may be. He compares 
the process of classification in art to the ar- 
rangement of books on shelves according to 
size and publisher — an ordering that has noth- 
ing to do with the vital matter of content, but 
satisfies the slight requirements of external ap- 
pearance and convenience. What he denies is 
not the existence of artistic specification but its 
ontological validity. He says in effect that those 
who wish to talk of epic and lyric, battle-piece 
and genre, civil and ecclesiastical architecture, 
are welcome to their vocables and devices, but 
that they must not confuse their practical ac- 
tivity with the true labor of aesthetic. "Sub- 
lime (or comic, tragic, humorous, etc.) is every- 
thing that is or shall be so called by those who 
have employed or shall employ these words." 8 
It is obvious to what intellectual battle-field 
Croce carries his ideas when he converts them 
into mere labels. He is a mediaeval nominalist 
in respect to aesthetic conceptions. 

Croce directs two main arguments against 
the reality of artistic species. In the first place, 
he can point to experience and indicate the ac- 



94 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

tual failure of attempts at classification. For 
example, two people discuss the same picture. 
One calls it realistic, the other symbolic. In 
any given case they may both be right, for they 
may mean different things by the same word. 
And in attempting to pigeon-hole poets, histori- 
ans have differed hopelessly among themselves. 
Here is Ariosto, who "appears now among the 
cultivators of the Latin poetry of the Renais- 
sance, now among the authors of the first Latin 
satires, now among those of the first comedies, 
now among those who brought the poem of 
chivalry to perfection." 7 Yet these various 
Ariostos are the same person. Again, experi- 
ence shows the absurdities of finesse of those 
logicians whose chief interest is in fixing the 
type of a poem or picture. Not content with 
the class 'eclogue' to mark off poems of country 
life, they must sub-divide eclogue into pastoral, 
piscatorial, and military, however insignificant 
the works corresponding to some of these heads 
may be. By thus calling attention to the inade- 
quacy or artificiality of the historic attempts to 
organize art, Croce undertakes to demonstrate 
the essential futility of the process. 

But in the second place he supports his pole- 
mic by deeper-lying reasons. The very nature 



CROCE'S AESTHETIC 95 

of art precludes the sectioning of its substance. 
Art is spirit; spirit is single and indivisible. 
The tendency to cut up pure act, which art is, 
flows from the unwarranted application to spirit 
of a method suitable to matter. How could one 
hope to frame an abstract classification conson- 
ant to the inner reality of a vision? The ques- 
tion has only to be put to answer itself. It is 
true that the vision is always externally ex- 
pressed and thus achieves a body. It would 
seem that the tendency of scholars to classify 
artistic forms is the result of a confusion of the 
legitimate consideration of the parts and types 
of the body with the illegitimate consideration 
of the vital soul. The intuition of beauty is 
itself and nothing else; itself is its final cate- 
gory; but the physical fact to which the intu- 
ition is confided for safe keeping and communi- 
cation can be divided and sub-divided. In the 
painted surface one can distinguish groups and 
curves of line, hues with their shades and tints ; 
in the poem, strophes, verses, feet, syllables ; in 
a novel, chapters, paragraphs, periods, phrases, 
words. But this incorporation of an intuition 
bears a wholly external relation to the intuition 
proper: there is no inference from the one to 
the other. Croce believes that the confusion 



96 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

between these two aspects of beauty is the secret 
of the fallacy of classification. When the dis- 
tinction between the essential moment of art — ■ 
the pure spiritual act — and the practical em- 
bodiment of art in a physical medium is once 
grasped, then, according to our writer, the 
tendency to create artistic species ceases. 

In reply to Croce's first argument one may 
say that failure in the application of a principle 
does not in itself refute the principle, although 
a large number of such failures might be re- 
garded as a significant symptom of some con- 
stitutional weakness in the theory. But logic- 
ally a believer in the inner differentiation 
of art and beauty may fully agree with the 
charge of artificiality in most actual classifica- 
tion and yet hold to his main doctrine. Old 
Laocoons may become outworn, new Laocoons 
be written and in their turn need revision, and 
at the same time the theme of the boundaries 
and characteristics of the arts be of perennial 
interest to the intelligence. Thus when Croce 
complains of the fruitlessness of the attempts 
to define romanticism and classicism, and asserts 
that when we fix our attention on the works of 
the masters, "we see the contest disappear in 
.the distance and find ourselves unable to call 



CROCE'S AESTHETIC 97 

the great portions of these works romantic or 
classic or representative, because they are both 
classic and romantic, feelings and representa- 
tions/' 8 or when he delivers the opinion that 
"epic and lyric, or drama and lyric, are schol- 
astic divisions," 9 we are inclined both to agree 
and to demur. Despite the unfortunate ten- 
dency to formalism in human thinking which 
has often prevented the free flowering of the 
theoretic impulse, periods of barrenness and 
occasional failures have not destroyed the force 
of the original impulse. Honest attempts to 
understand, even if unproductive, testify to 
resourcefulness and therefore vitality in the 
implied dynamic principle. 

The direction which the process of criticism 
must take in classifying artistic elements or 
species is, I think, correctly indicated by Mr. 
Carritt's treatment of the sublime. 10 After 
reviewing the contradictions and cross-distinc- 
tions in the series of definitions given by Long- 
inus, Kant, Hegel, A. C. Bradley, Wordsworth, 
and Payne Knight, he feels constrained to agree 
with Croce that the concept of sublimity is 
without philosophic value. "Surely," he says, 
"we cannot resist concluding from all this that 
'sublimity' is only a little worthier of scientific 



98 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

respect than any vague interjection expressing 
aesthetic approval." 11 But a close look at the 
method pursued by Carritt in shattering the 
concept affects one's opinion of the relevance — 
the logical direction and issue — of the conclu- 
sion. How does he demonstrate the futility of 
the idea of the sublime? By testing the notion 
in the light of the particular examples subsumed 
under the class-name. In the process of testing 
he finds a repeated lack of correspondence be- 
tween specific case and general definition. What 
he looks for is the presence or absence of as- 
serted differentiae in the concrete illustration. 
Because he finds some one or two or three dif- 
ferentiae missing in most presentations which 
are declared to be typical of sublimity, he infers 
the merely instrumental nature of the idea. 
Now the chaos in this attempt at aesthetic clas- 
sification is obviously a fact not to be neglected. 
Revision at least of the definition of the sublime 
is called for. But that after Mr. Carritt has 
announced his agreement with Croce, he him- 
self should actually proceed to revise rather 
than to discard the term seems to me very sug- 
gestive. He does not virtually, although he 
does nominally treat the term 'sublime' as a 
mere vocable and device. He works out for the 



CROCE'S AESTHETIC 99 

concept under consideration an intrinsic and 
objective meaning, but a meaning far more 
elastic and philosophical — less mechanical and 
external — than those he rejects. The word re- 
fers, he concludes, to depth of aesthetic experi- 
ence, and depth he explains as meaning power 
to overcome the "apparent recalcitrancy of the 
elements taken up. . . . When the spirit 
through its expressive activity conquers for 
free contemplation those obscure and mastering 
impulses which actually repel aesthetic treat- 
ment and cling to their ugliness, then the result- 
ing beauty has a poignancy, a depth or richness, 
resonant of the discords that have been re- 
solved in it, and we experience preeminently 
that 'exaltation and even rapture,' that joy of 
battle which has given rise to the name 
sublime." 12 

The movement of Mr. Carritt's argument 
seems to me to point an interesting moral for 
logical theory. He tends to sympathize with 
Croce's assertion that beauty is a universal 
which contains individuals but no species, but 
he himself reasons in the spirit of that asser- 
tion only so long as he treats a species of beauty 
as embodied in a self-contained formula, and 
examples of the species as self-sufficient par- 



100 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

ticular cases, and so long as he looks for a point 
for point coincidence between the two. A per- 
sistent lack of coincidence shakes his faith in 
the objectivity of the concept. At the same 
time a sure feeling for a true intention in the 
term makes him instructively inconsistent. 
What he asserts finally, if I understand him 
correctly, is that the word sublimity marks, not 
an exclusive circle of aesthetic cases, but the de- 
gree of development of a continuous function. 
It refers to a modality of behavior within the 
individuality of beauty, a degree of the actuality 
of its principle, rather than to a sharply sun- 
dered kind of beauty. The transformation that 
the definition of sublimity undergoes in Mr. 
Carritt's thought is typical of the transforma- 
tion that any definition of a spiritual reality 
undergoes when analysis becomes more pene- 
trating. The farther one gets into the nature of 
a universal such as beauty, the more difficult it 
is to match idea with visible and tangible in- 
stance. Mr. Carritt seems to have felt this strain 
of beauty toward the ideal realm, and the rela- 
tive unsatisf actoriness even for the understand- 
ing of beauty of the cave of images and shad- 
ows. He appears finally to have tried to put 
himself at the heart of the universal itself, at 



CROCE'S AESTHETIC 101 

the center of the expressive operation of beauty, 
and to have observed how its own nature forces 
it to grow and branch and to exhibit varying de- 
grees of power and characteristic quality. In 
this better kind of defining, the apparent vague- 
ness is due to the greater sense of relativity; 
there is a clearer consciousness of the reserva- 
tions under which the denning is done. The 
task has become logically more complex; there 
is less reference to immediate sensation, and 
there is less show of finality in the achievement. 
Sublimity, for example, when defined as a level 
or power of beauty can be less neatly labelled 
than sublimity regarded as a separable and dis- 
tinct part of beauty. Its definition in the for- 
mer case must draw more largely from the orig- 
inal definition of beauty, for the species is a 
direction or intension of its genus rather than 
a division of it. Again, sublimity regarded as 
depth of aesthetic experience is less capable of 
exhaustion in presentation than sublimity de- 
fined, for instance, as that which excites specific 
feelings of repulsion and expansion. Not only 
is the species felt in the more penetrating defi- 
nition to be but relatively independent of the 
universal; the examples under the species are 
felt to be but relative manifestations of the 



102 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

specific nature. 13 The pressure of the reality of 
the whole spirit of sublimity is felt but not 
caught within the particular case. 

This analysis of a semi-Crocean treatment of 
an aesthetic species helps forward the consider- 
ation of Croce's own second argument against 
classes of beauty. That argument is more seri- 
ous than the first, for it is based not on historical 
success or failure, but on logical structure. 
Reality is such, it reads, that art cannot be sub- 
divided. The question is now of the constitu- 
tion of reality as exhibited in art. When Croce 
makes the rhetorical inquiry, implying as he 
does so a theory of spiritual reality and of logi- 
cal procedure, "Who will ever logically deter- 
mine the dividing line between the comic and 
the non-comic, between laughter and smiles, be- 
tween smiling and gravity, or cut the ever vary- 
ing continuum into which life melts into clearly 
divided parts?" 14 the answer is a foregone con- 
clusion. Nobody will, of course. But the true 
answer to such an inquiry is an allegation of 
petitio and the demand for a critical regress on 
the assumption of the question. Suppose, in- 
stead of inquiring, who will determine a divid- 
ing-line, who will cut into clearly divided parts, 
one inquired, who will make intelligible that 



CROCE'S AESTHETIC 103 

pervasive strain in human nature and in art 
that we call comic ? Then the distinction asked 
for is no longer in terms of a segmented line 
or Euler's diagrams, but in terms of character- 
istics or intensions more or less embodied in the 
concrete instance : and this time a negative an- 
swer is not so readily forthcoming. The comic 
is inherent in reality, truly and objectively, not 
however so much in the sense of coextensive 
with particular cases as in the sense of adjectival 
of life as a whole. Life has its comic side which 
is more or less clearly expressed in isolable com- 
edies. The analogy of the moral sphere is illum- 
inating. We speak of good men. But it has 
been truly said: There is none good but one, 
that is, God. Is doubt thereby cast on the ob- 
jective status of human goodness? Rather we 
feel that goodness is a virtuality — a Platonic 
Idea, if you will — which is more or less incarnate 
in created creatures, never wholly absent, never 
wholly present. Again it is easier to determine 
who breaks the law than who is moral. And 
yet any one would say that the one of these 
categories which can be more easily connected 
with a set of given phenomena is the less com- 
prehensively constitutive of reality. Again it is 
easier to determine what people go to church 



104 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

than to say who is religious and what religion 
is, but almost nobody doubts that religion is a 
reality, and a more significant one than church- 
going. 

If one can assert of any world — the world of 
beauty, for instance — that it is a universal with- 
out species and with individuals only, it follows 
that one can assert that a world can exist which 
has no sorts or characters, but cases only. This 
sets in sharp relief the ultimate problem of the 
one and many. Now the individuals within a 
world are members of that world, and if mem- 
bers, then representatives of the whole to which 
they belong, claiming kinship and title by virtue 
of some characteristic. Croce appears to deny 
that cases under a universal are members of a 
world. But his denial has disastrous conse- 
quences for the nature of the consideration he 
is able to give to particular examples of art. It 
forces him into a formalism in logic such as 
he theoretically abhors, and it illustrates with 
peculiar vividness the aphorism that a reformer 
is usually deep-dyed with that which he seeks to 
reform. Since aesthetic experiences constitute 
for Croce an adjectiveless universe, and since 
no concrete process of analysis can take place 
where no specification exists, beauty consists for 



CROCE'S AESTHETIC 105 

him of a sum of self-sufficient entities, each one 
an unanalyzable expression; and the work of 
criticism reduces itself for him to the determi- 
nation of a bare identity. "The whole criticism 
of art," he says, "can be reduced to this briefest 
proposition, 'There is a work of art a,' with the 
corresponding negative : 'There is not a work of 
art b.' " 15 It is true that there has been much 
futile classification in the treatment of art, but 
it is one thing to find the trifling division of 
eclogue into pastoral, piscatorial, and military 
an example of the folly of logic-chopping and 
quite another to say that there is no meaning 
in the distinctions of medium or in the excel- 
lence of craftsmanship. The line should be 
drawn not between classification but within the 
realm of classification between the valuable and 
the worthless. But Croce by his mechanical 
treatment of the relation of the one and many 
in art is forced to the position that individual 
poems or statues are incomparable except 
quantitatively. Perfect works of art, he says, 
have but one quality. "The beautiful does not 
possess degrees, for there is no conceiving a 
more beautiful, that is, an expressive that is 
more expressive, an adequate that is more ade- 
quate." 16 



106 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

If some one should say that Croce gives a 
concrete meaning to beauty by denning it as 
expression, the answer is that his definition, in 
strict logic, is not a synthetic judgment. The 
word 'expression' in the context of his treat- 
ment does not enrich the term 'beauty.' It is 
simply an alternative title for a group of facts. 
When one utterance, as utterance, is as good 
as any other, the word loses import, for import 
depends on variety of manifestation in the con- 
crete. Beauty is then for Croce devoid of as- 
signable meaning or objectivity, unique, unana- 
lyzable, incomparable, incommunicable. Ex- 
amples of beauty are not spiritual functions of 
a fundamental principle in reality, but mutually 
repellent units, beauty-atoms. There are, he 
says, no specific differences between works of 
art, and no differences of intensity. The dis- 
tinctions are of extensity only. We have our 
unit — the intuition-expression — and the science 
of aesthetics consists in a knowledge of the dis- 
tribution of units. As in physiology a cell is 
the unit and the body an aggregate of these 
units ; as in chemistry the atom is the unit, and 
a mountain an aggregate of these units; so in 
aesthetics, the intuition-expression is the unit, 
and such a massive and complex aesthetic object 



CROCE'S AESTHETIC 107 

as the Rheims cathedral an aggregation of 
them. Such obvious differences as appear be- 
tween the peasant-woman's outburst at King 
Alfred for burning the cakes and Thomas 
Hardy's epic-drama The Dynasts Croce seems 
to reduce to variations of mass and distribution. 
The woman's exclamation is a single aesthetic 
cell, or nearly so, and The Dynasts is a large 
number of cells. It doubtless requires greater 
concentration of attention to follow the config- 
uration of the group than of the primitive and 
single form, but an increased measure of atten- 
tion and patience is called for rather than a 
finer sensibility. As works of art differ in 
extension only, so the souls of men differ 
merely in the frequency with which they tend 
to express themselves lyrically. It is a mistake 
to suppose that there are artistic geniuses on 
the one hand, touched, as we enthusiastically 
say, with fire from heaven, and ordinary mor- 
tals on the other, who have no part in their gifts 
and happy fortune. "Great artists are said to 
reveal us to ourselves. But how could this be 
possible, unless there be identity of nature be- 
tween their imagination and ours, and unless 
the difference be only one of quantity?" 17 



108 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

Judgments of the bare existential form, 
There is a work of art a, and, There is not a 
work of art b, are not isolated phenomena in 
Croce's philosophy, but are, on the contrary, 
typical of his method of constituting the uni- 
verse. It would seem that for him not only is 
the world of beauty a universal without species, 
but that all the realms, into which he divides 
reality are analogous abstractions. If he identi- 
fies two things, he treats them as absolutely co- 
incident, and not as alike by virtue of some 
common character. They are one and the same, 
and that is all that can be said about it. Or if 
they differ, they differ absolutely. He realizes 
that if he treated resemblances between things 
as ideal identities of meaning instead of as 
quasi-spatial coincidences, the very foundation 
of his method would be immediately shaken. 
Thus he carries through his separation of iden- 
tity and differences with an instructive ruth- 
lessness. "People speak," he says, "of taste 
without genius, or of genius without taste. 
These . . . observations are meaningless, 
unless they allude to quantitative or psychologi- 
cal differences. . . . To posit a substantial 
difference between genius and taste, between 
artistic production and reproduction, would ren- 



CROCE'S AESTHETIC 109 

der both communication and judgment alike 
inconceivable. How could we judge what re- 
mained external to us ? How could that which 
is produced by a given activity be judged by a 
different activity?" 18 For Croce an absolute 
choice is always forced: either two things are 
mutually exclusive entities (the partiality of 
quantitative coincidence does not affect the 
principle) or they are two in no logical sense 
whatever. For Hegel, Croce says, "the artistic 
activity is distinguished from the philosophical 
solely by its imperfection, solely because it 
grasps the Absolute in sensible and immediate 
form, whereas philosophy grasps it in the pure 
element of thought. Which implies, logically, 
that it is not distinguished at all." 19 The notion 
that for thought a totality claims unity not by 
the exclusion of differences, but through their 
mediation, is foreign to Croce's mental habit, 
although he talks of syntheses and of identities 
in difference. There is for most of us more 
unity in a room — to use a homely example — 
which expresses its individuality through har- 
mony rather than through bare sameness of 
color, and through the mutual adaptation of the 
forms of furniture and hangings to each other 
than through the absence of distinctive fittings. 



110 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

The point of interest here is how difference of 
function may reinforce unity of meaning, so 
that the whole and part meet through some typi- 
cal, ideal character. Resemblance to be resem- 
blance must be distinguishable into the two 
moments of identical intent and difference of 
manifestation. 20 But for Croce, let there be the 
merest shadow of affinity between two things, 
and the likeness must either be interpreted as 
illusion or must push forward into absolute co- 
incidence. "An activity whose principle depends 
on that of another activity is effectively that 
other activity, and retains for itself an existence 
that is only putative and conventional." 21 

It thus appears that some of the characteris- 
tic positions of Croce's aesthetics derive their 
quality from a logical method which fails to 
knit together in any concrete fashion the one 
and the many. Variety within his world of 
beauty is of two sorts. It is either absolute 
difference: the work of art is then unique, un- 
translatable, and incomparable; or it is quan- 
titative: an artist's soul is, so to speak, more 
densely packed with unique expressions and 
utterances than the common man's. In so far 
as instances of beauty fall under the first head 
and are simply themselves and nothing else, 



CROCE'S AESTHETIC 1 1 1 

they are beyond apprehension. That is, indi- 
viduality which excludes ideal connections and 
the reference of the qualities and characters of 
its substance to species, is outside the pale of 
intelligence. To say that the manipulation of 
material, the choice and blending of colors and 
sounds, the rhythms and balance of patterns, 
or sublimity, in the sense of the overcoming of 
a peculiar recalcitrancy in the elements taken 
up into the whole — to say that these aspects or 
attributes or species of beauty have nothing to 
do with the success of the total effect is to fly 
in the face of facts. Croce almost accepts this 
extreme consequence of his reasoning, and lets 
the facts as such go when he is enlarging his 
theory, but fortunately, he is not altogether con- 
sistent. But in so far as he makes beauty both 
the utterly unique and also the intelligible and 
re-instatable, he combines two ideas which, as 
ideas, are irreconcilable. 

In so far as beauty falls under the second 
head, that is, is expressive of quantitative diff- 
erence, he seems also to be inconsistent. The 
point is, on what score is Croce entitled to any 
criteria of comparison at all? Grant him his 
abolition of all mechanical classifications and 
ratings — every philosopher worthy the name 



112 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

finds this a commonplace. But on his hypothe- 
sis of art as pure spiritual activity, as unique 
utterance, one wonders how he is entitled to 
even such a tenuous connection of content as 
the geometer's. For with a general relation- 
ship once admitted within the confines of beauty, 
the substantive nature has accepted as adjec- 
tival a definite analyzable aspect of reality which 
shapes itself in scientific generalizations, and 
the dogma of the merely intuitable many is 
gone. Moreover, quantity is a category to 
which Croce is in a special sense not entitled. 
For he regards the realm of body and space as 
an abstract construction of physicists designed 
to explain and subordinate to our practical ends 
our ordinary experience. But it is strange to 
fall back upon a practical abstraction to eluci- 
date the principle of difference in the Very real' 
world of beauty. How can one spiritual vision 
be more spread out than another? The term 
extension is intelligible in relation to the em- 
bodiments of the artistic impulse — there are 
longer and shorter poems and larger and smaller 
canvases — but Croce explicitly excludes these 
physical differences from the essence of beauty. 
In a word, it is only through space that Croce 
can explain the differences between the indi- 



CROCE'S AESTHETIC 113 

viduals of the universal Beauty, and yet the 
peculiar form of his aesthetic idealism which 
makes the intuition always disembodied spirit 
precludes his right to use that principle of indi- 
viduation. Logically his one and his many must 
forever dwell apart. 

There has been no attempt to deny in this dis- 
cussion the suggestiveness of many of Croce's 
insights into the nature of beauty or the validity 
of many of his isolated assertions. But he fur- 
nishes us a collection of apercus and images 
rather than a system of ideas. If "philosophy, 
like all other genuine sciences, has passed be- 
yond the stage of the merely striking or sug- 
gestive treatment of problems, and aims not at 
interesting or picturesque results, but at the sys- 
tematic organization of the facts with which 
it deals according to some general principle," 22 
then Croce belongs rather to the company of 
those who make the world interesting than to 
the company of those who satisfy the mind's 
demand for intelligibility. 



V 

SANTAYANA'S DOCTRINE OF 
AESTHETIC EXPRESSION 

Forms whose gestures beamed with mind. — Shelley, 
The Revolt of Islam. 

Since the term 'expression' is the watchword 
of Croce and his disciples, and not only of these 
but of others who in certain respects differ 
widely from Croce, the connotation of the term 
in any considerable philosophy of the beautiful 
becomes a matter of primary interest. If in 
any given system the word does not serve as 
an alternative designation of beauty itself, it 
probably at least names one of the chief charac- 
teristics of beauty. Here then an inquiry into 
the meaning of a word tends to widen and 
deepen into the orientation of an aesthetic. 
Santayana's is such a "considerable philosophy 
of the beautiful," for he has a wide following 
not only among professed philosophers and 
psychologists who merely contemplate what 
they do not execute, but also among the exact- 
ing practitioners of the arts themselves, who 
quote his utterances approvingly in their criti- 
cal writings. 1 Moreover, in his theory the con- 



SANTA YANA'S DOCTRINE 1 1 5 

ception of 'expression' does function crucially. 
It is well-known that Croce makes art and 
expression coextensive: "Art is perfectly de- 
fined when it is simply defined as intuition." 2 
"To intuit is to express; and nothing else 
(nothing more, but nothing less) than to ex- 
press." 3 Bosanquet also stretches the term to 
the full compass of the theme of aesthetic: "To 
say that the aesthetic attitude is an attitude of 
expression, contains I believe if rightly under- 
stood the whole truth of the matter. . . . [Ex- 
pression is] the keyword to a sound aesthetic." 4 
And the doctrine of empathy — "the most com- 
monly accepted of our time" — is based on the 
belief that a physical object may 'express' the 
inner psychical activity of a percipient. Santa- 
yana separates himself from all these inter- 
preters at one stride by making expression, 
whatever he may mean by the term, not the 
whole but a part of aesthetic effect. For him it 
is only one of the three elements which com- 
bine to form the objectified pleasure which is 
beauty. The three constituents are, he says: 
( 1 ) material beauty — sensuous imagery, vital 
feelings, simple colors and sounds and complex 
organic reverberations and reactions; (2) for- 
mal beauty — the arrangement of the sensuous 



u/ 



116 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

and vital elements in pleasing shapes and pat- 
terns; and (3) expression, the quality acquired 
by objects through association, an associated 
value, the survival in presentation of the intent 
of a previous experience. Expression thus 
appears as a superadded charm; it is "the sug- 
gestion of some other and assignable object, 
from which the expressive thing borrows an 
interest." 5 The material and formal beauties 
of objects are, so to speak, dream-wares, utterly 
absurd and unmeaning from the standpoint of 
the logical understanding; expressive beauty 
has meaning; it "springs from beneath the sur- 
face," and is a "nether influence." 6 

In the first place, then, aesthetic expression 
for Santayana is a part of beauty rather than 
a synonym of it. In the second place, this part 
seems to possess a quality and origin, and there- 
fore an individuality, of its own. It seems to 
be a distinguishable aspect or face of beauty and 
yet indeed to be more than this. At times it 
seems to have some capacity for existence over 
against its companion parts. Normally the 
three aspects are found together. But the ob- 
jection to isolation of the parts would seem to 
be empirical only, not logical. To be sure, San- 
tayana sometimes treats the parts as excisions 



SANTAYANA'S DOCTRINE 117 

and discriminations within a total content. 7 But 
the spirit of his whole philosophy is opposed to 
the notion of the logical compulsion of one term 
by another, and he does not appear persistently 
to imply that the matter, form, and expressive- 
ness of beauty are bound to appear in conjunc- 
tion. He says, it is true, that aesthetic effect 
has no parts when truly apprehended. 8 But in 
spite of this assertion, we shall see that he so 
treats the three elements that they seem to have 
the power of functioning independently; the 
flavor of each seems to remain whole and unim- 
paired in the ripe mixture ; no one part seems to 
be transmuted by the others or by the whole. 

Concrete examples of the parts of beauty sub- 
sisting by themselves support the hypothesis 
that the words "excision and discrimination" 
as descriptive of matter, form, and expression 
have a relative and not an absolute force. We 
are told, for instance, of a landscape whose 
beauty is expressive only. If the landscape has 
pleasant associations for us, we may feel in the 
contemplation of it a "deep and intimate 
charm," however "empty and uninteresting" it 
may be in itself. ■ "We shall be pleased by its 
very vulgarity. . . . The treasures of the mem- 
ory have been melted and dissolved, and are now 



118 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

gilding the object that supplants them ; they are 
giving this object expression." 9 The glamor of 
this spectacle is then derived from something 
alien to the immediate stimulus of, say, brown 
uplands and ancient dwellings. If in other 
days I had not been happy amid these scenes — 
this particular animal I — then I should not now 
find it lovely. The same sensory material, with 
the same massing and focussing of color, might 
conceivably have left me cold. The beauty here 
embodied is the specific beauty of expression or 
association. As this is an illustration of beauty 
derived from expressive interest only, so cases 
may be imagined in which beauty is dependent 
on form and matter alone without the rein- 
forcement of congenial imported significance. 
Expression may be absent from beauty as well 
as constitute its total presence and intent. An 
example would be a decorative inscription on a 
Saracenic monument as one who did not read 
Arabic might be aware of it. 10 Here the charm 
may consist wholly of rhythms of curve and 
color. The sound of Italian verse striking on 
the ear of a sensitive person who did not under- 
stand Italian would be a further example. 

Beside cases in which one of the elements 
of beauty functions for the time being as the 



SANTA YANA'S DOCTRINE 119 

whole, Santayana gives instances in which, 
through looseness of structure, the sensuous and 
expressive content are, though both present, 
readily separable. This strengthens with fresh 
material the argument for the logically indepen- 
dent status of expression, and the presumption 
of the essentially fortuitous relation between 
expression and images. In stained glass, for 
instance, we have a "gorgeous and unmeaning 
ornament" which then "becomes a vivid sym- 
bol." 11 There exists for the sensibilities an ex- 
panse of rich color with "a look perfectly natu- 
ral ... a complete virginity of face, uncon- 
taminated with the smallest symptom of mean- 
ing," to which, as a surplusage and like an after- 
thought, meaning may be added. 

The independence of the expressive from the 
presentative element may even go so far, on 
Santayana's view, as to reach hostility. In 
tragedy, for instance, the effect of sublimity 
which is proper to that form of art depends on 
the capacity of an agreeable external show to 
conquer a horrible content. Here the two ele- 
ments point in different directions; they only 
join after conflict. The tragic emotion is com- 
plex ; it contains two contrary forces, for in this 
particular affective conscious process an ele- 



120 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

ment of pleasure must triumph over an element 
of pain. We must be at once saddened by the 
truth of the plot and delighted by the vehicle 
that conveys it to us. "A striking proof of the 
compound nature of tragic effects," he says, 
"can be given by a simple experiment. Remove 
from any drama — say from Othello — the charm 
of the medium of presentation; reduce the tra- 
gedy to a mere account of the facts and of the 
words spoken, such as our newspapers almost 
daily contain ; and the tragic dignity and beauty 
is entirely lost. Nothing remains but a dis- 
heartening item of human folly, which may still 
excite curiosity, but which will rather defile than 
purify the mind that considers it." 12 

Without at this point prejudicing the issue 
of our argument, we may yet indicate for pur- 
poses of clarification that in any aesthetics of 
expression, conventionally so-called, this crucial 
experiment would be regarded as a monstrous 
proposal and as the reductio ad absardum of the 
method that allowed it. Many philosophers 
would say that the supposition that you can ab- 
stract the medium from a work of art and have 
a recognizable part of it left is insecurely 
founded on mistaken theory. It would not be 
the story of Shakspere's Othello, or any com- 



SANTA YANA'S DOCTRINE 121 

ponent of it, so the argument would run, that 
would be left after the removal of Shakspere's 
verse and architecture; it might be — who 
knows? — such a scrap or theme as incited 
Shakspere to bring Othello into being, story and 
medium alike. But as in the finished play there 
are medium and plot which can no more be torn 
apart than the life of the blood from its sub- 
stance in a breathing animal, so in the original 
slight hint that sets in motion the mind that 
makes the play there are the analogous two 
aspects. The true distinction, would be the 
claim, is not between a mass of sensuous imag- 
ery and its associated value, but between a 
slight form which clothes a slight meaning and 
a highly determinate form which clothes a high- 
ly individual meaning. In Croce's famous 
words: "Be it pictorial, or verbal, or musical, 
or in whatever other form it appear, [expres- 
sion] is, in fact, an inseparable part of intuition. 
How can we really possess an intuition of a 
geometrical figure, unless we possess so accur- 
ate an image of it as to be able to trace it imme- 
diately upon paper or on the blackboard ? How 
can we really have an intuition of the contour of 
a region, for example, of the island of Sicily, if 
we are not able to draw it as it is in all its mean- 



122 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

derings ? Every one can experience the internal 
illumination which follows upon his success in 
formulating to himself his impressions and feel- 
ings, but only so far as he is able to formu- 
late them. Feelings or impressions, then, pass 
by means of words from the obscure region of 
the soul into the clarity of the contemplative 
spirit. It is impossible to distinguish intuition 
from expression in this cognitive process. The 
one appears with the other at the same instant, 
because they are not two, but one." 13 

In his conception of aesthetic expression, 
then, Santayana not only limits the term to a 
part of the aesthetic effect instead of expanding 
it into the whole, but assigns to this part a rela- 
tively high degree of self-sufficiency. We have 
seen that the plot of a tragedy is for him a con- 
stituent unmodified in its objective status by its 
way of appearing. A modification takes place 
surely, he would say, when a commonplace story 
acquires noble poetry for its vehicle; but the 
modification takes place in the individual con- 
sciousness of the observer, not in the substan- 
tial fact of the drama. The repellent quality 
of the tale is compensated for by the shine and 
artistry of the medium; but the tragic events 
are not themselves transfigured. Upon the 



SANTA YANA'S DOCTRINE 123 

view opposed to Santayana's this whole assump- 
tion of the separability of percipience and sub- 
stantial fact in art is unwarranted. The story 
as finally expressed in the words of a master 
must be thought of as a new creation, not as 
the simple text which might have occasioned 
the act of creation. 

But for a fair portrait of Santayana's theory 
his doctrine of the unity of artistic effect must 
be juxtaposed to his doctrine of the separa- 
bility of functions. The two ideas cohabit, 
though they do not cohere. In his anatomy of 
aesthetic pleasure he confesses that he has done 
something that is dangerous and in a sense un- 
sanctioned by the plain facts. In treating ob- 
jectified feeling as if it were composed of parts, 
in distinguishing the material of things from 
the forms it may assume, and these from their 
associated value, he has followed, he says, "the 
established method of psychology, the only one 
by which it is possible to analyze the mind. . . . 
But aesthetic feeling itself has no parts, and this 
physiology of its causes is not a description of 
its proper nature." 14 Since Santayana himself 
recognizes the precariousness — even the meas- 
ure of falsification — of his analytical procedure 
his own words furnish the stimulus for a criti- 



124 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

cal consideration of his method and the inquiry 
as to whether any other approach to the aesthetic 
concept of expression may be less hazardous. 

The central fact in Santayana's method for 
the critic is that in "following the established 
method of psychology, the only one by which it 
is possible to analyze the mind," he avails him- 
self exclusively of the tool of history for the 
purpose of differentiation. "Expression," he 
says, ". . . differs from material or formal 
value only ... in its origin." Physiologically 
and psychologically they are fused. "But an 
observer, looking at the mind historically, sees 
in the one case the survival of an experience, 
in the other the reaction of an innate disposi- 
tion." 15 All three modes of beauty are blended 
in the act of aesthetic contemplation. But since 
the mediate value of beauty was — to borrow 
Alexander's terms — begotten by the temporal 
process upon space at a point-instant different 
from the moment of arrival of the immediate 
values, the two types may be treated as separate 
functions. The cause of associated meaning 
happened in creation's career before the cause 
of pleasant sound and pattern. Our writer's 
method then is to explain beauty by tracing the 
evolution of a content of experience, reporting 



SANTAYANA'S DOCTRINE 125 

how a particular complex has been built up out 
of elements through the operation of specific 
mechanisms. He conceives his task as an aes- 
thetician to be the telling how charm and grace 
have been created, pieced together, erected. He 
focusses his search upon the primitive seeds and 
natural instrumentalities which in course of 
time conjoin to produce that arresting result — 
beauty. Being empirical-historical, his method 
will be observational rather than interpretative 
and linear rather than systematic. The reality 
of the temporal process and the validity of the 
function of sense-perception will be assumed. 
In the course of the chronicle there will be no 
inference to an element or force at work in the 
process which is not verifiable by reference to 
the ranging eye. The psychological reporter 
does not presume to guess what moves the world 
to individualize itself thus and so, but writes it 
off merely as it is given. "Here is an epic pro- 
cess, behold it," he seems to say. "Why it exists 
I do not know ; but if it interests you, its course 
appears to be as I say." Any hypothesis of a 
primum mobile or a transcendent power, an im- 
manent teleology or a soul or a pervasive divin- 
ity, is a gratuitous assumption outside the pro- 
gram of a scientific philosopher. 



126 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

At first sight it would seem as if nothing 
could touch a description of this sort so long as 
it remained consistently untheoretical. A bare 
record of events is not a thesis to be supported 
or challenged. The disavowal of any intention 
of interpreting or adumbrating or divining 
ought, it would seem, to disarm the critic. But 
the ideal of a perfectly transparent report in the 
field of philosophy is a vain hope, and the notion 
of a detached observer who does not shape his 
history to the requirements of some assumption 
is a pretty fiction. 'Essences' which are merely 
'intuited' and which are innocent of relevance, 
congruity, concept, or category, can only be con- 
ceived of by a violent effort of abstraction ; and 
the 'facts' which a scientific aesthetic would re- 
count actually swim in a context of opinion or 
conviction or supposition and cannot live and 
breathe outside their essential medium. So, in 
Santayana's case, the mere effort after trans- 
parency, the mere will to take events in the cos- 
mic evolution as flat data, leads him, paradoxi- 
cally enough, to an inclusive mental set. While 
explicitly intending abstinence from specula- 
tion, and while trying to report only what he 
has honestly seen with his eyes and heard with 
his ears, he ends by coloring his report with the 



SANTAYANA'S DOCTRINE 127 

prejudicial hue of fortuitousness. For chance 
is appealed to in his story, not provisionally and 
humanly, but finally and cosmically. There is 
thus a presumption of the accidental in his rep- 
resentation, and a postulate at the basis of his 
psychological aesthetics. 

If anyone then undertakes to examine Santa- 
yana's transcript of reality in so far as it con- 
cerns the appearance of artistic species he will 
be struck by the frequency with which the cate- 
gory of sheer luck is invoked. A naturalistic 
philosopher, he tells us in his essay on Lucre- 
tius, substitutes law for fortune. But in his 
own naturalistic philosophy miracles and mys- 
teries abound. The verbs by which he describes 
the arrival of new qualities in the world of art 
express accidental change rather than reason- 
able progression. For instance, this is his de- 
scription of the emergence of beauty in human 
experience : "The ceaseless experimentation and 
ferment of ideas, in breeding what it had a pro- 
pensity to breed, came sometimes on figments 
that gave it delightful pause; these beauties 
were the first knowledges and these arrests the 
first hints of real and useful things." 16 He here 
speaks of humanity "coming on" delight as we 
speak of the luck of sunny weather for a holi- 



128 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

day. In describing the origin of dancing San- 
tayana says that groping action passed into sig- 
nificant and disciplined performance by a "quite 
intelligible transition." Yet in stating this in- 
telligible transition he asserts that conduct in 
the groping stage "lights on" its purpose. 17 In 
discussing the beginnings of music, our author 
considers the problem why a "pattering of 
sounds on the ear" should have as much mo- 
ment "as any animal triumph" or "any moral 
drama." He says : "That the way in which idle 
sounds run together should matter so much is 
a mystery of the same order as the spirit's con- 
cern to keep a particular body alive or to pro- 
pagate its life. Such an interest is, from an 
absolute point of view, wholly gratuitous. . . . 
We happen to breathe, and on that account are 
interested in breathing; and it is no greater 
marvel that, happening to be subject to intri- 
cate musical sensations, we should be in earnest 
about these too." 18 Apparently the basis of 
rationality on this view is the accident of a 
happy physiological organization. The account 
of the dawn of decorative art involves the same 
reference to fortuitous variation: "If [a man] 
happens, by a twist of the hand, to turn a flow- 
ering branch into a wreath, thereby making it 



SANTA YANA'S DOCTRINE 129 

more interesting, he will have discovered a dec- 
orative art and initiated himself auspiciously 
into the practice of it." 19 

There is a sense in which Santayana confines 
himself to the end to the principle of chance — 
if one may use so paradoxical an expression. 
For he assigns to that human faculty of judg- 
ment which turns back upon the train of exis- 
tence, and endows it with import and value and 
beauty, only that same authority of spontane- 
ous emergence which he gives to all other exist- 
ences. Every impulse has initially the same 
authority as the censorious one by which the 
others are judged. 20 Yet to judge just means 
to apportion authority. How then can that 
which is without prerogative authority confer 
weight upon others? This perhaps is hardly 
Santayana's business to explain, since he is pro- 
bably no more bound to justify justification than 
anything else. In the spirit of his system he 
might contend that the capacity of human reflec- 
tion and art to enrich bare existence with rela- 
vance and harmony is a datum; that all the in- 
tellectual and aesthetic properties which are the 
outstanding attributes of the human world sim- 
ply 'turn up.' Events so conspire, one might 
say, that reason attaches value to the blind im- 



130 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

pulse and the unprized apparition. Man "intro- 
duces consonances into nature" and so sustains 
what he doesn't originate. Life, we are assured, 
no matter how complex it may become, is at 
bottom pure feeling; yet this feeling may rise 
to such dignity that it is appropriate to say that 
it disciplines, orders, arranges, and rational- 
izes other and simpler forms of itself. Mental 
vegetation may so thrive and thicken that it 
may "gather and render back its impressions in 
a synthetic and ideal form." 21 Fitful nervous 
groping may so prosper that it can create sym- 
bols. Music starts with "explosive forces" that 
"loosen the voice," but these automatisms in 
course of time secure propitious retroactive 
effects, and presently a force is engendered 
which reins in and keeps from becoming va- 
grant the original sense-impressions. A capa- 
city is generated which can control, reflect, and 
criticize, and which can develop style and taste. 
Human wisdom and power are, as respects 
origin, sediment of the flux of nature; but this 
sediment is unexpectedly precious and potent, 
for it proves to be able to fortify certain cur- 
rents in the flux and cancel others. 

Of course no one can disprove, in the mathe- 
matical sense, this report of the emergence of 



SANTAYANA'S DOCTRINE 131 

forms of art and qualities of being. On the 
whole the panorama presented corresponds with 
our inspection of the surface of cosmic history. 
And yet for a view that is designed to exhibit 
the hang of things — their connections and inter- 
relations and significances — it leaves the reader 
with a curiously strong sense of disorganization 
and of appeal to the marvellous. The presenta- 
tion seems alienated from its purport. Causes 
seem absurdly small in comparison with their 
effects. The accident of twisting a spray 
grounds, we are told, the superstructure of a 
decorative art. This announcement strains one's 
sense of credulity. An unmotived leap from 
chance gesture to self-conscious and complex 
world of beauty may have occurred in nature; 
but the apprehending intelligence finds it 
stranger that this should have been so than that 
it should not. Adequate cause for considerable 
effect is surely a postulate of all explanation. 
That the fortunate collision of pattering sounds 
with plastic sensorium should have engendered 
the intricate intellectual art of musical compo- 
sition seems more like a guess calling for expla- 
nation than an explanation in itself. If indeed 
such a collocation of events is left at its face 
value and not further analyzed, it implies the 



132 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

unscientific notion, ex nihilo multum fit. Such 
value and import as natural events appear to 
the unsophisticated mind to carry bodily with 
them are, according to Santayana, imposed 
upon the events after the events by an effect of 
themselves. And in this the wonder lies: that 
out of the chance motions and clashings of 
primordial physical elements should issue mas- 
sive spiritual capacities and centers of apprecia- 
tion. We feel that the matrix can hardly sus- 
tain the offspring. 

Such an ironical result is not out of harmony 
with the general tenor of Santayana's whole 
'scepticism and animal faith.' The demand for 
logical intelligibility is in itself, to his mind, 
irrational. "The reason for my proclivity to 
play with ideas, to lose them and catch them, 
and pride myself on my ability to keep them circ- 
ling without confusion in the air, is a vital 
reason. This logic is a fly-wheel in my puffing- 
engine; it is not logic at all." 22 Or if logic is not 
a fly-wheel in a puffing engine it is a "mere 
romance." 23 Certitude appertains only to the 
airy realm of essences, that is to merely pre- 
sented contents untroubled by value or mean- 
ing; value and meaning are what arbitrary be- 
lief or interpretation adds by animal impulse. 



SANTAYANA'S DOCTRINE 133 

There is no such thing in reality as genuine logi- 
cal constraint ; on the contrary, the "real knowl- 
edge" which binds two things together is transi- 
tive and presumptive only ; it is faith. It extends 
the jurisdiction of the mind from one thing to 
something alien, because its essential character 
is to mediate between two things which do not 
in their own right cohere. The ideal of ration- 
ality does not express a law of things but the 
accident of a creature's organization. "All the- 
ory is a subjective form given to an indetermi- 
nate material." 24 

In a theory which interprets rationality as a 
late and episodic birth of time and as a merely 
subjective phenomenon, it is not surprising to 
find that the ground and truest explanation of 
things is physical. "All origins lie in the realm 
of matter, even when the being that is so gener- 
ated is immaterial, because this creation or in- 
trusion of the immaterial follows on material 
occasions and at the promptings of circum- 
stance." 25 In his concern not to "cut the animal 
traces" of spirit, Santayana almost leans back- 
ward and makes man effectively and for intelli- 
gence a biological subject, a kind of gifted brute. 
Life is for him an equilibrium of physical 
forces; the self a cycle of vegetative processes; 



134 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

the ideal an emanation from the natural. Plastic 
art is really motor sensation. Spiritual facts 
are ultimately cerebral events. Space is the 
final category of intelligence. Specific values 
attributed to objects, such as colors and odors, 
are due to specific nervous processes. Infer- 
ence is a feeling of relation. The love of 
nature is an overflow of sexual passion. Our 
impressions of the sublimity of the stars and 
of the Categorical Imperative are sensations of 
physical tension. 

Santayana almost boasts indeed that he is a 
materialist. He would have the glory of being 
the only one alive. As, however, he immedi- 
ately qualifies his boast by saying that he is not 
a metaphysical materialist, he takes the bloom 
from its cheek. If he means no more by the 
title than his willingness, "whatever matter be, 
to call it matter boldly," 26 I scarcely see how he 
is to maintain his title against the most flouted 
idealist. For it is characteristic of the idealists 
to say with one of their leaders : "To reject the 
function of the body — our own and nature's — 
is not to honor but to bereave the spirit" ; 27 and 
with another: "Artistic fancy is always cor- 
poreal." 28 And yet there is truth in our author's 
boast. He not only assigns to matter validity, 



SANTAYANA'S DOCTRINE 135 

but primary validity; he not only attributes to 
it existence, but abstract existence. Other 
qualities of being come back to it as to a final 
resting-place; it is for him a latter-day first 
cause. For as we have seen, his method of 
understanding reality, at least artistic reality, 
is historical. The one sound analytical proce- 
dure was to spread functions and entities out 
in the order of their genesis. By this mode of 
analysis matter is primary; and mind, coming 
later, has to be superimposed on matter by an 
anterior operation. And the synthesis of the 
two seems more like a mariage de convenance 
than a union through affinity of nature and dis- 
position. 

There is then an immediate datum both in the 
history of the universe and in the aesthetic 
experience, and in neither case does the presen- 
tation carry its own intelligibility with it. San- 
tayana's specific doctrine of the connection of 
presentation and expression in art by the for- 
tuitous link of association is simply his whole 
system writ small. As in reality in the gross 
the psyche has to create spirit to bring into the 
cosmic process meaning and value, so in the 
aesthetic experience, the immediate imaginal 



136 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

content is forced to suggest for itself a logically 
alien import. 

The alternative view is to take matter not as 
something which in its pure concept excludes 
mind, but as what it is understood to be, and 
sensation and fancy not as immediate data but 
as utterances. If the meaning of presentations 
may be taken as inherent in them instead of as 
"an ideal harness loosely flung over things," 
then the articulate grammar of both aesthetics 
and philosophy in general becomes less miracu- 
lous. For a speculative philosopher there is no 
problem in the 'compresence' of matter and 
spirit in the universe, soul and body in a biolog- 
ical organism, expression and matter and form 
in the sense of beauty, because in each of these 
essential coherence is taken as a birth-right. 
The so-called ideality of matter means for many 
idealists no more than that matter possesses a 
nature or intelligible character, this being an 
attribute over and above the capacity to stimu- 
late an organism. Such philosophers find it 
rationalistic rather than observational to make 
matter originally and lumpishly physical and to 
exhaust the definition of 'things' in their rela- 
tion to the sensorium. Since they believe that 
colors and sounds and fragrances speak a Ian- 



SANTAYANA'S DOCTRINE 137 

guage in the very act of setting up nervous cur- 
rents, they find it artificial to attach "associated 
value" to aesthetic presentation post factum. 
Beauty's expression is its nature. The thought 
of poetry, in poetry, is the music; sense and 
sound are a single compound life. Even in the 
test-case of elemental sensations — the splendor 
of red or yellow, the burst of a trumpet or the 
piercing tone of a violin — the sensation is felt 
by the human percipient not as sheer impact of 
ether-waves, but as utterance, that is, expres- 
sion. Colors say something to us, though what 
they say cannot be translated into terms of ordi- 
nary discourse. If then expression is main- 
tained to be innate in so-called pure sensation, 
by so much the more will it be innate in those 
examples of art which are more palpably repre- 
sentative or symbolical. 

There is then nothing esoteric about a doc- 
trine of aesthetic expression which holds that 
the ideality of art rests on a faith in the life and 
divinity with which the external world is in- 
formed, or that art adumbrates the divine attri- 
butes of nature. Such phrases as these, set in 
their complete context, imply the simple truth 
that art presupposes an import or expressive- 
ness in all its objects, even the barest of them — 



138 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

moreover, an expressiveness which is not ap- 
pended to the presentation. Thus Santayana's 
remark that "there is no explanation in calling 
beauty an adumbration of divine attributes" 29 
loses its sting. He has been misled by the 
figurative and enthusiastic language, and sup- 
poses there is vagueness because there is lofty 
metaphor. The truth of the matter would seem 
to be that there is more mystery in an aesthetic 
which simply allows beauty to graft itself on to 
data after the event than in one which holds 
that there is expressiveness and therefore beauty 
in sensation from its earliest dawn. 

If proof were needed that the expressionism 
of the expressionists is a natural interpretation 
of artistic phenomena, such proof would seem 
to be at hand in Santayana's own naturalistic 
aesthetics. Though he affects a scientific atti- 
tude, and would gladly let all happen as happen 
will in a universe primarily composed of matter 
and moved by chance, he is at times decoyed by 
his imaginative gift into greater precision of 
perception. Witness his account of the "full 
vitality and music" of Lucretius' world. "We 
seem to be reading not the poetry of a poet about 
things, but the poetry of 'things themselves. 
That things have their poetry, not because of 



SANTAYANA'S DOCTRINE 139 

what we make them symbols of, but because 
of their own movement and life, is what Lucre- 
tius proves once for all to mankind. . . . Na- 
turalism is a philosophy of observation, and 
of an observation that extends the observable; 
all the sights and sounds of nature enter into 
it, and lend it their directness, pungency, and 
coercive stress. At the same time, naturalism 
is an intellectual philosophy ; it divines substance 
behind appearance, continuity behind change, 
law behind fortune. It therefore attaches all 
those sights and sounds to a hidden background 
that connects and explains them. So under- 
stood, nature has depth as well as surface, force 
and necessity, as well as sensuous variety." 30 It 
would seem from this that a natural philosooher 
divines directly the 'expressiveness' of nature. 
And all the "divine attributes" that a Platonist 
or Hegelian might desire are implicit in what 
this Lucretian acknowledges that he divines. 
The poetry of things themselves is the expres- 
siveness of things themselves. If Santayana 
had followed the Lucretian argument whither- 
soever it would lead and had boldly ascribed 
movement and life to nature in requisite meas- 
ure at all stages of her process, the difference 
between his interpretation and that of at least 
one critic would vanish. 



VI 

BEAUTY AND RELATIVITY : 
THE THEORY OF CHARLES LALO 

This universe . . . always was, and is, and ever 
shall be an ever-living fire, fixed measures kindling and 
fixed measures dying out. — Heraclitus. 

Through nine brilliantly written volumes 1 M. 
Lalo has elaborated what he calls a "sociologi- 
cal aesthetic." He is not the first to treat beauty 
from the social point of view. As he himself 
points out, "sociological aesthetic, in spite of its 
air of novelty, is much more ancient than the 
words which designate it," 2 beginning at least 
as far back as Plato and Aristotle. Yet the air 
of novelty is in a measure justified with Lalo 
for, departing boldly from the tradition of 
Taine in which he immediately stands, he at- 
tempts to socialize aesthetic values as well as 
the antecedents of artistic production. For 
Taine a work of art was a compound like sugar 
or vitriol; he aimed characteristically at noth- 
ing more than a descriptive science. Lalo, on 
the other hand, asserts that aesthetic is nothing 
if not normative. When he declares that "to 
think aesthetically is to think, -at least subcon- 



BEAUTY AND RELATIVITY 141 

sciously, under the category of sociability," he 
means more than that the artist is soaked in his 
environment and limited by his epoch. He 
means that beauty, in the distinctive sense of its 
immediate address to the imagination, its com- 
pulsion of admiration, is also social. 

Lalo's conception of aesthetic value presents 
itself to him as a mediation between two unten- 
able extremes, impressionism and dogmatism. 
The thesis of impressionism is that the value 
of a work of art resides in the momentary mark 
it makes upon the individual consciousness. The 
worth of a poem or picture lies for the impres- 
sionist in the spontaneous and inconsequential 
response of the human organism. This iso- 
lated reaction may realize itself as a secondary 
work of art and thus become impressionistic 
literary criticism. But while such criticism 
gives par excellence the energy and charm of 
an artistic achievement, it possesses no scienti- 
fic validity and pretends to none. Its force is 
rather that of autobiography or romance. "The 
good critic," says Anatole France, "is he who 
tells the adventures of his soul among master- 
pieces." 3 "Aesthetics rests on nothing solid," he 
says further, "it is a castle in the air." 4 Sainte 
Beuve called aesthetic impressionism "the Epi- 



142 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

cureanism of taste" ; 5 and little as he believed in 
its finality or trustworthiness, he yet wrote feel- 
ingly of the joys of the voluptuous and sensi- 
tive reader who inhales the finer breath of lit- 
erary creation, and who only concerns himself 
with such aspects of art as tend to his delecta- 
tion. The doctrine of the impressionists may 
be rendered as a paraphrase of the famous 
Sophistic utterance thus: "That is right in art 
which each man likes at the given moment." 

Superficially taken, the thesis of dogmatism 
is the precise contrary of this. For the dogma- 
tist, the value of art lies in the work itself, and 
is totally independent of any flux of impres- 
sions in sentient beings. Each example of 
artistic workmanship embodies, as it were, an 
aesthetic axiom, and commands with an unde- 
rived authority. Thus dogmatic, for Lalo, was 
Plato's Idea of the Beautiful, and the academic 
Aristotelian tradition. But the most arbitrary 
aesthetic absolutes of all, he maintains, are the 
intangible emanations of French and German 
romantic genius. Even Brunetiere, he says, 
the would-be Darwin of aesthetics, remained 
dogmatic, for while admitting the evolution of 
genres, he assigned an unvarying validity to 
principles of taste, and therefore made of parti- 



BEAUTY AND RELATIVITY 143 

cular epics or dramas scholastic entities and ra- 
tional essences. For any dogmatist the rights 
of a beautiful object stand superior to the need 
of rational evidence or to the possibility of re- 
examination, but subsist by some mystical power 
of self-maintenance. 

Both impressionists and dogmatists treat 
beauty as a value, and they thus share a point 
of divergence from the naturalist Taine. They 
are also subject to a common error: they give 
specific examples of beauty no intelligible 
grounding. They both place their theories be- 
yond the pale of concrete criticism. A dogma- 
tist, says Lalo, is merely an impressionist who 
arbitrarily exalts his preference to the level of 
universal reason. He formulates his conviction 
abstractly and then assumes it to hold for all 
minds and all ages. And the impressionist is 
merely a dogmatist who substitutes for Q.E.D. 
the words: "This is my good pleasure." His 
judgment is no less categorical. Lalo shares 
with both types of critic the insistence on value, 
but as over against both, he would rationalize 
the worth of art by reference to actual phenom- 
ena, and give a scientific sanction to the gla- 
mor of a lyric or a portrait or a fugue. His 
problem is to give a concrete and convincing 



144 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

warrant for the intuited authoritativeness of 
beauty. 

He derives the clue for his own solution from 
within one of the rejected extremes — from im- 
pressionism. Impressionism, he says, is justi- 
fied as a moment in the development of the 
science of aesthetics because it emphasizes the 
notion of relativity. For the notion of an 'abso- 
lute' is Lalo's ultimate abhorrence. Thus he 
says that LeMaitre and France, in that they 
conceive of aesthetic worth as dependent on the 
reciprocal determination of objective stimulus 
and subjective receiving-apparatus and as vary- 
ing constantly with the variation of either of 
these two terms, have made a genuine theoreti- 
cal advance over their dogmatic opponents. If 
they could have carried out the implications 
of this insistence on relativity, he says, they 
would have arrived at a genuinely scientific doc- 
trine. For it is the drawing out of the connec- 
tions and relations of a work of art which settles 
the disputes about taste, and which gives the 
claims of concrete beauty more than a fleeting 
tenure. The relations of an aesthetic phenome- 
non to other phenomena function as the 'check' 
or 'control' on any expression of approval or dis- 
approval concerning it. The organization of 



BEAUTY AND RELATIVITY 145 

these relations becomes aesthetic law, a law 
which supplants the 'essence' of earlier theories. 
And this inductively supported generalization 
about a work of art replaces the fiat of a dilet- 
tante or academician. 

What relations, then, are to be traced with a 
view to supporting or overthrowing the claims 
of any particular work of art? If the texture 
of relations is to be the check on the unsup- 
ported expression of taste, what is to be the 
check on the elaboration of relations? For the 
possible relations of any given phenomenon are 
infinite. 

In his repugnance to arbitrariness Lalo ac- 
cepts the only possible alternative to a definitive 
selection of pertinent relations. He will make 
no distinction between relations. He declares 
that what determines the value of a given work 
of art is the totality of its relations. "A com- 
plete scientific aesthetic," he says, "would be 
eminently relativistic because it would make the 
value of a work depend on the manifold rela- 
tions between it and all other realities and all 
planes of reality." 6 "Aesthetic relativism," he 
writes again, in italics, "will only be complete 
when it has genuinely covered all relations." 7 
Becoming more concrete, he specifies that aes- 



146 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

thetic must be in turn mathematical or mechan- 
ical, physiological, psychological and sociologi- 
cal. And under sociological relationships he 
includes many types of connection, religious, 
economic, political, domestic. For example, in 
the investigation of the aesthetic value of a 
work of Palestrina's, its intervals would first be 
subjected to an abstract mathematical study in 
the Pythagorean fashion. Next there would be 
physical and physiological experiments in the 
manner of Helmholtz. Psychological interpre- 
tations of tones and scales such as have been 
made by Riemann, d'Indy, or Bourgues and 
Denereaz, would then be in order. And finally 
the polyphonic composition would have to be 
placed correctly within its social, religious, and 
technical milieu. 

What strikes the reader in this description of 
method is no more the empirical stupendity of 
the requirement that all relations be traced than 
its unfortunate logical implications. An inde- 
terminate universality tends to collapse both for 
science and logic into the opposite of univer- 
sality — bare nothingness. If the conception of 
an unrestricted totality of relations is appro- 
priate anywhere, it is in metaphysics. No doubt 
Tennyson's well-known apostrophe to the 



BEAUTY AND RELATIVITY 147 

flower in the crannied wall involves a kind of 
theory of relativity. But it is not such com- 
prehensive knowledge as Tennyson sums up in 
the phrase "what God and man is" that Lalo 
intends for aesthetic. Lalo is aiming at precise 
scientific results — knowledge comparable to the 
verified hypotheses of physics or biology. Now 
a scientific hypothesis can be verified only be- 
cause certain precise conditions are laid down 
under which the investigation shall take place 
and because there is deliberate abstraction from 
everything that cannot be subordinated to these 
conditions. Certainty of result is bought at the 
price of limitation of the relations to be taken 
into account. For example, in Newtonian phy- 
sics molecules are defined as qualified by mass, 
extension, and central forces proportional to 
mass. And certain equations and generaliza- 
tions can be made on the basis of this initial 
hypothesis. But "the actual properties of mole- 
cules can only be expressed in terms of their 
potential orientations to various other kinds of 
molecules; and, when we pass beyond the com- 
paratively simple empirical facts relating to 
crystallization, when we consider also the limit- 
less empirical facts of chemistry, we can see 
that the physical conceptions of extension and 



148 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

central forces connecting masses are nothing 
but imperfect representations of reality, how- 
ever useful these imperfect representations may 
be within certain limits." 8 Again physical chem- 
istry, resting upon a definite conception of rela- 
tions to be considered, allows very precise mea- 
surements to be taken of certain processes with- 
in the living body; but just because of its limi- 
tation of point of view, it cannot explain the 
active role that certain membranes in the body 
sometimes assume. In all fields the certainty 
of scientific result is consequent upon and pro- 
portionate to the quasi-artificial categorizing of 
the material in hand. If aesthetics is to become 
a science, as Lalo desires, then we ought to be 
able to discern an aspect of negation in its defi- 
nition of method. But if, instead of this, we 
undertake scientifically to understand, say, a 
picture, and lay down no conditions, assume no 
working hypothesis, but take vaguely and 
grandly all relations of that picture for our pro- 
vince, then our method is not scientific but in- 
appropriately metaphysical. -Practically, all re- 
lations = no relations. Thus instead of pro- 
gressing toward a concrete understanding of 
the aesthetic imperative we are back where we 
started from, in the impasse between impres- 



BEAUTY AND RELATIVITY 149 

sionism and dogmatism and with no light on 
the problem of how the value of beauty is to be 
rationally supported. 

Obviously, in practice, Lalo cannot hold to 
this all-embracing ideal of a complete web of 
relationships. Where there is no distinctness 
of approach there is no theoretical progress. 
Now there are different ways in which Lalo 
might give end and shape to his inquiry. He 
might, for example, limit the investigation of 
relations intensively, i.e., connotatively. He 
might start with some hypothesis as to the 
nature of an aesthetic object and treat the rela- 
tionships under analysis as members of a speci- 
fic kind of whole. Suppose, for example, he 
provisionally defined beauty as empathy or as 
significant form or as purposiveness without 
purpose, then his procedure would have defini- 
tion. His general conception might or might 
not be retained, but at least it would serve as 
a useful temporary frame to limit his relating 
activity. At the worst, it would be a helpful 
heuristic device. Then, though mathematical 
and physical and religious matter might be 
introduced, it would only be introduced, as 
Spinoza says, quatenus. Some check would be 
operative on the measuring and the threading 



150 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

of connection, for measurements and threads 
of connection would only be considered in so far 
as they contributed to the elucidation of em- 
pathy or significant form or purposiveness with- 
out purpose. With the intensive limitation of 
relations the aesthetic object would be treated as 
an organic or individual whole, and some sense 
of the whole would operate in the research into 
detail of structure. 

As a matter of fact, Lalo might well limit 
his investigation in this way, for in practice he 
has a restricted conception of the aesthetic 
object. Indeed, he fences aesthetic beauty around 
more narrowly than do many students of the 
subject. For instance, he has a principle on 
the basis of which he denies beauty to nature. 
The values of nature, he says, involve the cate- 
gories of health, strength, type, sex, utility ; the 
values of art those of the human surplusage of 
technique alone. Beside identifying aesthetic 
beauty with technique he defines it as the disci- 
pline of luxury, more specifically, as the social- 
ization of erotic play. He disapproves, for ex- 
ample, of such a conception of art as that of 
Ruskin and Morris — joy in work. In explain- 
ing his theory of beauty as the discipline of sex- 
ual luxury, he says that the facts peculiarly sug- 



BEAUTY AND RELATIVITY 151 

gestive for the aesthetic inquiry are those relat- 
ing to the family, the question whether the offi- 
cial regime in any country is polygamic or mono- 
gamic, the divergencies of law and custom on 
this point, the jealous cloistering of the harem, 
complete ignorance on a man's part of any 
women but his own, and on a woman's part of 
any man but her husband, such facts again as 
American, Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian co- 
education, and the constant mingling of the two 
sexes in business and professional life. 

Since Lalo busies himself through an indefi- 
nite number of pages in differentiating what he 
calls "anaesthetic" from aesthetic considera- 
tions, he would seem to have material at hand 
for a functional treatment of connections with- 
in an aesthetic object. And there are moments 
when he realizes that he must not leave his bun- 
dle of relationships lying loose and scattered like 
a chance assemblage of existences. He asserts, 
for instance, that none of the inferior planes 
of ideal organization — mathematical, physical, 
physiological — which condition the total effect 
of a work of art, imply an aesthetic qualification 
in themselves. He says: It is evidently not in 
the abstract that a concrete work of art reveals 
geometrical or arithmetical facts to us. These 



152 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

facts are relevant in art only as interpreted in 
the light of social discipline. They must some- 
how be absorbed into the social level. But I 
can never discover any elucidation of this move- 
ment of ascent, or any directing principle per- 
vading it. He never seems to demonstrate how 
planes and lines and the balancing of forces are 
to be held always in control by reference to the 
individuality of the given technique or the par- 
ticular instance of socialized sexual luxury, and 
I therefore tend to feel that Lalo is not in earn- 
est with the organic principle of art which he 
adumbrates. The respect he pays to it seems 
to me largely verbal. 

He does indeed make a slight destructive use 
of the principle of individuality in his criticism 
of the experimental aesthetic of Fechner and 
Kiilpe. Up to the present, he says, Fechner 
and his successors have only been able to use 
as tests of preference in formal beauty rect- 
angles, ellipses, triangles, crosses, bisected lines, 
or lines followed by a dot like an i, or more com- 
plex patterns of points or areas or colors where 
the sense of symmetry is fostered or hindered 
by quantitative relations or equivalences of 
quality. He thinks highly of this type of inves- 
tigation as a substructure to aesthetic, but he 



BEAUTY AND RELATIVITY 153 

believes that the "atoms of value" thus estab- 
lished fall, strictly, below the aesthetic thresh- 
old. "This method," he says, "remains power- 
less in the exploration of concrete works of 
art, because no concrete work can be so simple 
as this, and such a work cannot retain aesthetic 
value when thus divided." 9 He compares Fech- 
ner's subaesthetic method to the preliminary 
chemical analysis of atoms of oxygen or hydro- 
gen in the body, and he points out the difficulty 
of articulating the results of physiological chem- 
istry with the concrete study of the functions of 
the lungs or stomach — functions which only 
exist in the medium of the totality of the organ. 
As the totality of the organ, then, acts as a 
check on the study of physiological detail, so 
the individuality of the aesthetic whole ideally 
pervades and directs the analysis of detail within 
it. 

Thus Lalo verges on the enunciation of a 
functional principle by which he would limit 
the study of relationships. But he does not 
stand unambiguously for it, because he always 
suspects it of arbitrariness. He repeatedly in- 
sists that the genuinely complete aesthetic, the 
quite integral philosophy of the beautiful, will 



154 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

incorporate among its findings all possible rela- 
tions. 

A second possible way of making the study of 
relationships determinate would be by limiting 
them extensively. In this case a certain number 
of relationships would be cut off from the totali- 
ty, and this class of connections would be iden- 
tified with aesthetic value. Since this is a more 
mechanical mode of shaping the inquiry than 
the intensive method, and since Lalo prizes con- 
crete rationality above all things, we would not 
expect to find him adopting it. Yet normally 
and practically he does define aesthetic value as 
one class of relationship — the social. "Aesthe- 
tic value," he says succinctly, "is glory or ad- 
miration." 10 What gives or denies to beauty a 
prerogative is the adhesion or repulsion of the 
social milieu — reputation, success or unsuccess, 
obloquy or ridicule. Only when a work of art 
is apprehended and appraised by a public does 
it cross the aesthetic threshold ; before that it is 
the potentiality of beauty. Purely personal re- 
actions are arbitrary and inconsistent, and can- 
not give a poem or a picture a status. In other 
words, until a work of art is confirmed and veri- 
fied by the sign manual of a pleased constitu- 
ency, it is an aesthetic hypothesis without objec- 



BEAUTY AND RELATIVITY 155 

tive validity. Social sanction confers author- 
ity upon that which without it would remain in 
the category of natural facts. That convenient 
instrument of speculation in all fields — the man 
on the desert island — could never create a true 
instance of beauty. He might fabricate in 
paint or marble and might like what he had 
made. But so may the fool approve his folly 
or the dreamer his dream. Imaginative con- 
structs only attain the rank of value when their 
agreeable quality is ratified by the admiration 
of many. The universality which literary cri- 
tics have ignorantly ascribed to particular works 
of genius sociological science now explains as 
unusual extent and persistence of social appro- 
bation. And the necessity of an aesthetic judg- 
ment, of which logicians speak, is, according to 
science, the substantiation given an individual 
preference by the coincidence of general agree- 
ment. "In that day," says our author, "when 
the public shall attach no superior authority to 
the name of Voltaire or Wagner, it will no 
longer be fitting to speak of the value of their 
works, except in an antiquarian sense. Their 
value would no longer be an actuality." 11 

The value of a work of art is, then, for Lalo, 
a variable, or, to adopt his own terminology, an 



156 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

evolving phenomenon. In respect to the sensi- 
ble object it is an accident, like the moment of 
life which attaches to mortal clay and then de- 
parts. Homer's Odyssey had, for instance, its 
three-score years and ten of value, and then the 
value left it, like breath the body. Value is a 
fluctuating somewhat which now perches upon 
a design in paint or marble or language and now 
flies away again. It is not immanent in and spe- 
cific to the aesthetic object. You cannot say it 
is of the picture in the same sense that you can 
say that the pattern or material is of it. The 
relation of value to art, on this view, is dis- 
tinctly an external and occasional relation. 
Beauty happens to art, and is not one with it. 
The social effects of a work of art form a 
texture, surely, which surrounds and sustains 
and in a sense places a work of art, and yet it 
is not quite clear why the consensus of these 
social effects should be a true judgment about 
an aesthetic object. The fact that Lalo takes 
into account various types of social sanction — 
the diffuse sanction of isolated individuals and 
the organized sanction of an academy or of an 
elite — that he identifies value not with the social 
sanction of any one generation but with the 
judgment which has survived many genera- 



BEAUTY AND RELATIVITY 157 

tions and has outlived conflicting prejudices — 
does not seem to alter the fact that he seeks to 
build up a universal out of an assemblage of 
particulars. The constant invocation of the 
word 'value' and of the descriptive term 'relati- 
vistic dogmatism' does not alter the radical em- 
piricism of the method. Lalo does indeed rec- 
ognize that the mere number of votes does not 
make art great. He says that the value of a 
work is proportionate to the "character of obli- 
gation, moral pressure, authority, or superi- 
ority" which derives from the living organiza- 
tion of the social body. But I cannot discover 
that the nature of this pressure is philosophi- 
cally analyzed. I cannot attach any meaning to 
this consensus of opinion as value, unless I 
take it as psychological value-feeling. Then 
indeed we might have a description of the moti- 
vation for a particular act of admiration, but, 
so far as I can see, no justification of the ad- 
miration. The value-feeling would reveal it- 
self as the aura of emotion of social sanction, 
the increment of sentimental force and vivid- 
ness given to an opinion when it is sensed as one 
with the general opinion. But while this feeling 
of oneness with society does give a subjective 
impression of validity, it tells nothing about 



158 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

logical evidence. One may have a very strong 
sentiment that one is right, and yet by all dis- 
interested standards be wrong. 

If then, following Lalo, you say that for uni- 
versality of art should be substituted more 
modestly collectivity of taste, you are in need 
of some canon of criticism for the collective 
taste. You need some principle of control for 
the relevancy of the social estimate. What 
counts is the qualified audience. But what con- 
stitutes qualification? Competence cannot be 
explained by further social approval, audiences 
appraising audiences ad infinitum. The minute 
you speak of qualification or competence in an 
audience you refer the whole question of the 
value of art back to the object. The society 
which confers distinction upon a poem is a 
society which can only be defined by reverting 
to the poem. Only those who have immersed 
themselves in the individual pattern and inten- 
tion of the poem are entitled to pass upon it 
Audience and object thus reciprocally deter- 
mine each other. Value is, in a sense, a social 
fact, but it is not luck, which success often re- 
duces to, but objectivity, that is, superiority 
to accidental and private significance. 



BEAUTY AND RELATIVITY 159 

It is the more surprising that Lalo does not 
distinguish between the relevant and irrelevant 
social reverberations of art since he is at great 
pains to distinguish beween the relevant and ir- 
relevant pre-conditions of artistic creation. His 
chief animadversion against previous sociolo- 
gical aesthetic is that it failed to draw a clear 
line around the causes which were exactly per- 
tinent. In the eighteenth century l'Abbe Dubos, 
he says, elaborated th*» influence of climate upon 
genius, but meteoromgy, he is careful to re- 
mark, is extra-aesthetic. Comte and Proudhon, 
he tells us, reduced art to something other than 
its distinctive nature, something economic, po- 
litical, or scientific. In Vart et la vie sociale 
Lalo, like these earlier sociologists, presents 
anaesthetic conditions of artistic production, the 
economic, political, religious, and domestic de- 
terminants. But what they did in ignorance, 
he does self-consciously. He knows that in this 
volume he is working in the borderland of aes- 
thetics and not in its proper domain, and because 
he is guided by a clear recognition of the method 
of his investigation he claims for himself trans- 
cendence of the earlier point of view. To 
attach art to the anaesthetic functions of society 
is necessary, he says, but dangerous. Only 



160 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

when a sociological aesthetician confines him- 
self to the psycho-physical syntheses which are 
peculiar at once to sociology and to aesthetics, 
and which are irreducible to simpler data — in a 
word, to the evolving techniques and sanctions 
described in the history of art — does he in the 
proper sense cultivate his own garden. 

In view of this neat cleavage between types 
of cause relevant to art and those not relevant, 
it is incomprehensible why Lalo does not sort 
out the analogous two classes of effect. There 
are psychological consequences appropriate to 
the peculiar constitution of a work of art, and 
there are those which fall beside the point. 
There are impressions of beauty which contain 
value and impressions which are valueless. 
There are socially impregnated reactions which 
are worth reckoning with and those which 
should be ignored. Lalo furnishes us no instru- 
ment of selection among these except the un- 
available ones of "largest possible quantity of 
relations" and of immediate value-feeling. 

The bulky corpus of Lalo's achievement is 
highly suggestive because he carries farther 
than anyone else has yet done the method of 
relativity as applied to the aesthetic object. He 
stands at the opposite pole from and challenges 



BEAUTY AND RELATIVITY 161 

comparison with those writers who deny that 
a work of art has, as such, any relations at all. 
But if our examination of his arguments is 
sound, he does not convincingly demonstrate 
how out of a complex of purely empirical rela- 
tions — however subtly they may be multiplied 
and woven together — may be derived the essen- 
tial note of beauty. 



REMARKS ON THE UGLY 

It is now taken as aesthetic innocence to apply 
the word 'ugly' to the portraits of wrinkled old 
women, cacophony in poetry, discords in music, 
angularity in drawing or roughness of dramatic 
utterance. The shrinking from complex and 
uningratiating representation, if there is some- 
thing powerful offered, is imputed to the tim- 
idity or intellectual narrowness of the spectator. 
But the new attitude raises a problem. If 
you extend the term 'beauty' beyond the 
mere easily agreeable so that it will include 
everything that is in any sense aestheti- 
cally moving, how much territory do you leave 
to the ugly? The tendency is to say, 'nothing.' 
Just as it is said regarding morality that "tout 
comprendre, c'est tout pardonner," so it is said 
of the world of semblances that to take in any 
presentation .adequately involves giving it a 
positive worth. This, Saintsbury says, is the 
spirit of the new literary criticism. Your new 
critic "must constantly compare books, authors, 
literatures indeed, to see in what each differs 
from each, but never in order to dislike one 
because it is not the other." And Bosanquet 
with all his austerity and insistence on distinc- 



REMARKS ON THE UGLY 163 

tions of value admits that he is much inclined 
to the view that there is no such thing as invin- 
cible ugliness. An appearance that is fully ex- 
pressive of anything, he says, becomes ipso facto 
a kind of beauty. 

The problem is one of extreme difficulty. On 
the one hand it is true that there is almost noth- 
ing which obstinately refuses to yield aesthetic 
enjoyment to one of sufficiently catholic imagi- 
nation and with historical training. On the 
other hand, it seems as if to blot out the idea of 
ugliness altogether would be dangerously to 
deny a plain and pervasive indication of human 
feeling. Is it not rather, we argue to ourselves, 
that ugliness has been clumsily defined than that 
it does not exist ? 

If there is a region of the ugly, we might look 
for it either in a collection of instances, or in a 
principle which is nowhere entirely incorpor- 
ated, but which fights against the spirit of 
beauty within particular appearances. Most 
people have their individual abhorrences in the 
realm of color. I believe that among the mature 
and sensitive there is a fairly general dislike of 
strongly-saturated pink. I know, for example, 
of an artist who is made physically ill by the 
sight of this color. And the same class of peo- 



164 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

pie would, I think, usually condemn the common 
Sunday-School hymn not merely from the reli- 
gious point of view, but aesthetically. But it is 
hard to think of cases which have no gleam of 
aesthetic interest whatever, or which cannot be 
imagined in some setting that would redeem 
them. Put your revival hymn in a drama of 
negro life, and it may contribute markedly to 
the total expressiveness of the play. And one 
who dislikes the color pink in the abstract may 
admire it when it appears in a picture of fruit- 
blossoms. 

The minute you begin to ask why you dis- 
like particular colors or sounds, or dislike them 
in certain contexts and not in others, you aban- 
don judgment on the basis of given empirical 
entities and begin to search for a principle of 
ugliness. Why, then, should the pure color pink 
and the undramatized Sunday School song have 
the tendency to offend sensitive taste? Is it, 
perhaps, that there is in both instances a spirit 
of pretense — a gesture of assertion which the 
substance of the color or the song cannot jus- 
tify? Is pink a hue that is trying obviously to 
be a pretty color, and not resting content with 
simply being a color? And is it too feeble to 
support its claim ? And is "Let a little sunshine 



REMARKS ON THE UGLY 165 

in" trying to be religious music and failing in 
the effort? Is there the suggestion of solemnity 
without dignity, and of gaiety without spright- 
liness ? 

In such instances the fault seems to lie in the 
cleft between pretension and performance. One 
thing is aimed at and announced, another is 
achieved. A second kind of dissonance, aesthe- 
tically unpleasant, is that caused by the self- 
conscious cleverness of the artist obtruding be- 
tween spectator and object. You are so dis- 
tracted by the performer's demonstration of his 
dexterity and straining for effect that you can- 
not lose yourself in the contemplation of the 
object. Take the sentence from a contempo- 
rary English novel, a novel on the whole skill- 
fully done but at the same time marred to my 
mind by self-consciousness : "He liked being told 
not to get his feet wet (in rain a butterfly would 
not have winked at)." Or this : "He had not pre- 
viously discovered the Dutch garden, but it was 
a pleasant covert, at need, surrounded by spice- 
scented yew-hedges with caves in them; its 
centre-piece spurting with flower-flames, and 
pricked by the noses of many bulbs." Here it 
seems to me the metaphors get out of hand and 
call attention to the ingenuity of the author. 



166 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

Too ostentatious a handling of medium in any 
of the arts may seem to interfere with and be- 
smirch the presentation. 

You may synthesize these two types of ugli- 
ness under the common idea of presumption, 
the presumption either of a sense-element or 
sense-complex or the presumption of a maker of 
artistic forms. Or you may root them both in 
the formal principle of incoherence. It does 
seem at times as if integrity of impression were 
the single a priori law of beauty. Of course no 
theorist can dictate beforehand how that in- 
tegrity of effect shall be obtained — into how 
much variety the unity may be differentiated, 
into how much width the texture may be 
stretched, how any detail or element is to make 
for the whole. There is no rule for the way me- 
dium, mood, technique, idea, inspiration shall 
join their powers. But they must all join some- 
how. If any one element stands out as if by 
nature not to be fused through the efficacy of a 
presiding feeling, then it seems to me you have 
an infraction of beauty. I do not know to what 
extent for an ideal reader the long sermon in 
Tristram Shandy would be, throughout, contrib- 
utory to the whole. For myself, I begin to 
feel ere long "preached at," and my enjoyment 



REMARKS ON THE UGLY 167 

is temporarily under eclipse. Whether I am in 
this case a weak spectator or not, the principle 
is suggested by the instance. And those who 
feel that the red of the sail in the St. Frideswide 
window of Christ Church, Oxford, overbalances 
the rest of the window are controlled by the 
same principle of integrity of impression. Any 
insurmountable or unmotivated dissonance — be- 
tween pretension and fulfillment, artist and pro- 
duct, or detail and totality — seems impossible to 
justify. 



NOTES AND REFERENCES 

I. Current Tendencies and Problems 

1. American Journal of Psychology, XXXV, p. 407. 

2. Journal of the Barnes Foundation, II, 1, p. 29. 

3. Vision and Design, p. 301. 

4. Ibid., p. 82. 

5. The Principles of English Versification, p. 12. 

6. "Time in English Verse Rhythm," Archives of Psychol- 
ogy, May, 1908, pp. 10, 11. 

7. See "Affective Sensitiveness in Poets and Scientific Stu- 
dents," American Journal of Psychology, XXXIV, pp. 
105, 106. 

8. Ray M. Simpson, American Journal of Psychology, 
XXXIII, pp. 234-244. 

9. Op. cit., p. 289. 

10. "Recent Work in Experimental Aesthetics," British 
Journal of Psychology, XII, 1, pp. 81-90. Also C. W. 
Valentine, The Experimental Psychology of Beauty, pp. 
27-34, 77-83. 

11. XXXVII, 2, pp. 233-237. 

12. J W. MacKail, The Life of William Morris, I, pp. 311- 
315. 

13. J. W. Cross, George Eliot's Life as Related in her Let- 
ters and Journals, III, pp. 302, 303. 

14. Warner Brown, op. cit., p. 20. 

15. Op. cit., p. 10. 

16. R. C. Givler, "The Psycho- Physiological Effect of the 
Elements of Speech in Relation to Poetry," Psychological 
Monographs, XIX, 2, p. 3. 

17. Helge Lundholm, "The Affective Tone of Lines," Psy- 
chological Review, XXVIII, pp. 59, 60. 

18. W. Van Dyke Bingham, "Studies in Melody," Psycholog- 
ical Monographs, XII, 3, p. 41. 

19. Op. cit., p. 11. 

20. Op. cit., pp. 89, 88. 



NOTES AND REFERENCES 169 

21. Op. cit., p. 302. 

22. Ibid., p. 182. 

23. Ibid., p. 185. 

24. JWd., p. 15. 

25. Ibid., p. 185. 

26. /fo'd., p. 181. 

27. Ibid., p. 185. 

28. Nitze and Dargan, A History of French Literature, p. 
705. 

29. W. H. Hadow, Music, p. 235. 

30. Loc. cit. 

31. Buermeyer, "Pattern and Plastic Form," Journal of the 
Barnes Foundation, II, 1, p. 27. 

32. Op. cit., p. 215. 

33. Ibid., p. 216. 

34. Ibid., p. 295. 

35. Buermeyer, op. cit., pp. 26, 27. 

36. Op. cit., p. 287. 

37. Clive Bell, Art, p. 210. 

38. Roger Fry, op. cit., pp. 295, 296. 

39. Ibid., p. 302. 

40. George Santayana, Reason in Art, p. 17. 

41. Buermeyer, The Aesthetic Experience, p. 70. 

42. Thought and Things, III, "The Springs of Art," p. 212. 

43. "Genesis of the Aesthetic Categories," Philosophical Re- 
view, XII, p. 7. 

44. Op. cit., Appendix B, "Darwinism and Logic : A Reply 
to Professor Creighton." 

45. Buermeyer, The Aesthetic Experience, p. 173. 

46. Ritchie, Darwinism and Hegel, "Origin and Validity," 
p. 14. 

47. "Genesis of the Aesthetic Categories," Philosophical Re- 
view, XII, p. 12. 

48. Sense of Beauty, p. 211 ff. 

49. Ibid., p. 56. 

50. The Aesthetic Experience, pp. 80, 81. 

51. Aesthetic (trans. Ainslie, 2nd ed.), p. 14. 



170 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

52. R. G. Collingwood, Outlines of a Philosophy of Art, p. 17. 

53. Op. cit., p. 13. 

54. Op. cit., p. 15. 

55. Ibid., p. 17. 

56. E. F. Carritt, The Theory of Beauty, pp. 214, 215. 

57. The Theory of Poetry, pp. 205, 206, 240, 241. 

58. Op. cit., pp. 212, 213. 

59. Ibid., p. 2. 

60. Collingwood, op. cit., p. 19. 

II. BOSANQUET ON THE ARTIST'S MEDIUM 

1. He says, for example, that both Neo-Idealists and Neo- 
Realists assume that "the end is progress" and that con- 
sciousness is episodic ; that logicians both of the type of 
Husserl and of the type of Spencer sever the ideal from 
the real and ultimately rest their theories on the same 
psychologism ; that preoccupation with weakness or little- 
ness in humility is like preoccupation with goodness or 
cleverness in vanity, etc. 

2. The example is borrowed from A. C. Bradley, Oxford 
Lectures on Poetry, pp. 20, 21. 

3. A Defense of Poetry, Ginn and Co., 1903, p. 7. 

4. Three Lectures on Aesthetic, p. 52. 

5. The Distinction between Mind and its Objects, pp. 24, 34. 

6. Three Lectures, pp. 15-17. 

7. Mind and its Objects, pp. 24, 25. 

8. The Value and Destiny of the Individual, p. 79. Bosan- 
quet suggests a possible qualification which is not here 
relevant. 

9. Quoted by Bosanquet, Mind and its Objects, p. 7. 

10. Ibid., pp. 32, 33. 

11. Three Lectures, p. 62. 

12. Popular Lectures on Scientific Subjects, Appleton, 1873, 
p. 88. 

13. Collected Works, XXII, pp. 182, 183, in the essay on 
"Some Hints on Pattern-Designing." 



NOTES AND REFERENCES 171 

14. The Breviary of Aesthetic, Rice Institute Pamphlet, II, 
4, pp. 260, 261. 

15. See S. Alexander, Art and the Material, pp. 15, 16, who 
makes the same point in considering Croce. 

16. Works, 3, p. 332. "An Apology." 

17. "Croce's Aesthetic," Mind, XXXIX, pp. 214, 215. 

III. Bergson's Penal Theory of Comedy 

1. Bergson, Laughter (trans. Brereton and Rothwell), p. 7. 

2. Ibid., p. 58. 

3. Ibid., p. 197. 

4. Loc. cit. 

5. Ibid., p. 198. 

6. Ibid., p. 135. 

7. Quoted by Philippe Legrand, The New Greek Comedy 
(trans. Loeb), p. 24. 

8. Euthydemus, 273, 274. 

9. Laughter, p. 6. 

10. W. E. Henley, The English Poets, Selections with Crit- 
ical Introductions, ed. Ward, II, p. 399 

11. Op. cit., p. 163. 

12. Ibid., p. 199. 

13. Lectures on the English Comic Writers, ed. Hazlitt, 
"Shakespeare and Ben Jonson," p. 44. 

14. Oxford Lectures on Poetry, "The Rejection of Falstaff," 
pp. 262-3. 

IV. The One and the Many in Croce's Aesthetic 

1. The Theory of Beauty, 2nd ed., p. 256. 

2. Aesthetic (trans. Ainslie), 2nd ed., pp. 67, 68. 

3. A. C. Bradley, Oxford Lectures on Poetry, p. 24. 

4. Quiller-Couch, Studied in Literature, first series, p. 82. 

5. Op. cit., pp. 204, 205. 

6. Aesthetic, p. 90. 

7. Breviary of Aesthetic, p. 267. 

8. Ibid., p. 247. 

9. Ibid., p. 248. 



172 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

10. Op. cit., chap. IX. 

11. Ibid., p. 255. 

12. Ibid., pp. 256, 257. 

13. For an able defence of logical definition in literature see 
"The Validity of Literary Definitions," by Charles E. 
Whitmore, Publications of the Modern Language Asso- 
ciation of America, XXXIX, 2, p. 722. 

14. Aesthetic, p. 92. 

15. Breviary, pp. 301, 302. 

16. Aesthetic, p. 79. 

17. Ibid., p. 14. 

18. Ibid., pp. 120, 121. 

19. Croce, Saggio sullo Hegel, quoted in Bosanquet, "Appen- 
dix on Croce's Conception of the 'death of Art' in Hegel," 
Proceedings of the British Academy, IX, p. 20. 

20. I am much indebted throughout this discussion to the 
chapter on "The Theory of Association of Ideas," in F. H. 
Bradley's, The Principles of Logic, 2nd ed., I, pp. 299 seq. 

21. Breviary, p. 273. 

22. J. E. Creighton, "The Nature and Criterion of Truth," 
Philosophical Review, XVII, p. 593. 

V. Santayana's Doctrine of Aesthetic Expression 

1. For example, Quiller-Couch in Charles Dickens and other 
Victorians, pp. 55 ; "Academy Notes," The Buffalo Fine 
Arts Academy, September 1907, p. 68. 

2. Breviary of Aesthetic (trans. Ainslie), Rice Institute 
Pamphlet, p. 250. 

3. Aesthetic (trans. Ainslie), 2nd ed., p. 11. 

4. Three Lectures on Aesthetic, p. 33. 

5. The Sense of Beauty, 1896, p. 85. 

6. See Scepticism and Animal Faith, 1924, pp. 137, 138. 

7. See Sense of Beauty, p. 76. 

8. Ibid., p. 267. 

9. Ibid., pp. 194, 195. 

10. Loc. cit. 

11. Op. cit., p. 76. 



NOTES AND REFERENCES 173 

12. Ibid., p. 226. 

13. Aesthetic, pp. 8, 9. 

14. Op. cit., p. 267. 

15. Ibid., p. 195. 

16. The Life of Reason. Reason in Art, p. 16. 

17. Ibid., p. 41. 

18. Ibid., pp. 45, 46. 

19. Ibid., pp. 118, 119. 

20. /6*U, p. 169. 

21. Ibid., p. 39. 

22. Scepticism and Animal Faith, p. 121. 

23. Ibid., p. 101. 

24. Reason in Art, p. 128. 

25. Scepticism, p. 109. 

26. Ibid., pp. vii, viii. 

27. Bosanquet, "Croce's Aesthetic," Proceedings of the British 
Academy, IX, p. 12. 

28. Croce, Breviary, p. 263. 

29. Sense of Beauty, p. 8. 

30. Three Philosophical Poets, pp. 34, 35. 

VI. Beauty and Relativity. The Theory of 
Charles Lalo 

1. Esquisse d'une esthetique musicale scientifique, Alcan, 1908 
L'esthetique experimental contemporaine, Alcan, 1908 
Les sentiments esthetiques, Alcan, 1910 
Introduction a l'esthetique, Colin, 1910 
L'art et la vie sociale, Doin, 1921 
L'art et la morale, Alcan, 1922 
La beaute et Vinstinct sexuel, Flammarion, 1922 
Notions d'esthetique, Alcan, 1925 
La Faillite de la beaute (with Anne-Marie Lalo), 

Ollendorff, 1923 

2. L'art et la vie sociale, p. 1. 

3. Introduction, p. 206. 

4. Ibid., p. 208. 

5. Ibid., p. 201. 



174 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 

6. Notions, p. 25. 

7. Introduction, pp. 338, 339. 

8. J. S. Haldane, "Are physical, biological and psychological 
categories irreducible?," Life and Finite Individuality, 
Williams and Norgate, 1918, pp. 20, 21. 

9. Notions, p. 16. 

10. "Programme d'une esthetique sociologique," Revue Phil- 
osophique, 1914, p. 47. 

11. Introduction, p. 334. 



INDEX 



Abercrombie, Lascelles, 35, 36 

Absolutism, of romanticism, 
142 ; Lalo's dislike of, 144 

Agreeableness, sensuous, dis- 
tinguished from aesthetic 
value by Fry, 17, 23 

Anaesthetic values, distin- 
guished from aesthetic by 
Lalo, 151 

A priori principles in aesthet- 
ics, 16, 18, 166 

Ariosto, 94 

Artist, introspection of, 12 

Artistic taste, objective val- 
idity of, 72 

Association, psychological, 
aesthetic expression the 
same as for Santayana, 116- 
118 

Assumptions, logical, of ex- 
perimental psychology, 6, 7 ; 
of Santayana, 126 ff. 

Baldwin, J. M., 27, 30 

Barrie, James M., Sentimental 
Tommy interpreted as Ev- 
eryman, 79 

Baum, P. F., 5 

Bell, Clive, 3, 4, 16, 21, 23, 
24, 26 

Blake, William, 21 

Blueness, life of according to 
Bosanquet, 49 f. 

Bosanquet, B., on artist's 
medium, 40-61 ; method, the 
presentation of a paradox, 
40, 170; 92, 162 

Bourgues, 146 

Brown, Warner, 6 

Brunetiere, 142 

Buermeyer, L., 3, 4, 31 

Bullough, Edward, 9, 15; a 
priori principle in aesthet- 
ics, 18 



Butler, Samuel, satire of 
Hudibras, 73 

Cantle, Granfer, Hardy's char- 
acter in The Return of the 
Native as comic hero, 87 

Carritt, E. F, 32, 35, 36, 38, 
89, 92; on the sublime, 97- 
102 

Chance, appeal to by Santay- 
ana, 127-132 

Classification in art, futility of 
in practice, 89 ; metaphysical 
implications of, 94-95 ; not 
philosophical according to 
Croce, 89 ; practical relev- 
ance of, 93 ; actual failure 
not decisive for logic, 96-97 

Collectivity of taste, Lalo's 
substitute for universality of 
aesthetic value, 158 

Collingwood, R. G., 32 

Comedies, proportion of that 
are satirical, 68-70 

Comedy, corrective function 
of according to Bergson, 66 
ff . ; characteristic effect of, 
65, 66 ; incongruity of finite 
and infinite its ideal mate- 
rial, 88 ; ideal incongruities 
in, 84; interpreted as the 
negation of logical meaning, 
83 ; commonly interpreted as 
satire, 68 

Comic, bodily resonance of 
the feeling for, 62; Car- 
ritt's definition of, 39 ; rela- 
tion of to logic, 62, 63. 

Comparative greatness of 
works of art, problem of, 
34-36 

Comte, 159 

Connotative method of classi- 
fication in art, 100-101 



176 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 



Cowell, Henry, 11, 12 

Criticism, growth of in ex- 
perimental aesthetic, 9-12 

Croce, on classification in art, 
89-113; on physical basis of 
art, 112; on form and con- 
tent, 121 

Denereaz, 146 

Dewey, John, 25, 26 

Difference, absolute for Croce, 
109 

Discipline of luxury, aesthetic 
value defined as by Lalo, 150 

Dogmatism, in criticism of 
art, 141 ff. 

Dubos, l'Abbe, 159 

Economic value, relation to 
aesthetic for Santayana, 31 

Eliot, George, 11 

Empiricism, Bergson's method 
in interpreting the comic, 
63, 64 

Evolution, in Lalo's aesthetic, 
155-156 

Experimental aesthetic, criti- 
cised by Lalo, 153. See 
Psychology 

Expression, Croce's concep- 
tion of, 115; crucial position 
of the idea in aesthetics, 
114, 115; Santayana's doc- 
trine of, 114-139 

Extensive limitation of aes- 
thetic relations by Lalo, 154 

Falstaff, "absolute comic hero," 
85-87 

Family, important for aesthet- 
ics according to Lalo, 151 

Form and content, in Croce, 
121 f . ; separable for Santay- 
ana, 120, 121 

Formal beauty, defined by 
Santayana, 115 f. 

France, Anatole, 141 



Fry, Roger, 4, 8, 16, 17, 18, 
20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26 

Function, aesthetic, how re- 
lated to psychological "feel- 
ing," 12, 13 

Genetic method in aesthetics, 
25-32; limitations of, 30, 31 

Glory, aesthetic value defined 
as by Lalo, 154 

Hardy, Thomas, quoted, viii, 
29; treatment of the comic 
in Tess, 75 ; Granfer Cantle 
in The Return of the Native 
as comic hero, 87 

Hazlitt, on Shakespeare's 
comedy, 81 

Helmholtz, on physical basis 
of harmony, 51-52, 146 

Humor, allied to wisdom and 
religion, 88 ; implies social 
solidarity, 72 

Impressionism in criticism of 
art, 141 ff. 

Individuality of works of art, 
90 ff. 

d'Indy, 146 

Instincts, of imitation and 
self-display for Baldwin, 27 

Intelligence, ideal functioning 
of same as art, 28 

Intensive limitation of rela- 
tions of works of art for 
Lalo, 149, 150 

Kiilpe, 152 

LaFarge, John, 9 

Lalo, Charles, sociological 

aesthetic of, 140-161 
Laughter, social for Bergson, 

71 
"Laughter without offence," 

71 



INDEX 



177 



Law, aesthetic for Lalo same 
as essence, 144, 145 

Leopardi, 33 

Life, and mechanism in com- 
edy, 64; continuity of with 
art, 26-34 

Lucretius, 138, 139 

Mallarme, 20 

Material beauty, defined by 
Santayana, 115 

Materialist, Santayana a, 134 

Matter, how related to spirit 
in Idealism, 136, 137; the 
physicist's philosophically in- 
terpreted, 46, 47; view of 
presupposed in theory of 
artist's medium as hind- 
rance, 42-44 

Medium, artist's, 40-61 ; re- 
garded as impediment to 
expression, 41-54; regarded 
as outside aesthetic experi- 
ence, 55-61 

Meredith, George, The Egoist 
interpreted as Everyman, 79 

Method, abstractness of 
Croce's, 110; current in 
aesthetics, 3-39 ; empirical 
of Bergson, 63, 64 ; empir- 
ical-historical of Santayana, 
123-125 ; experimental, 6-16 ; 
formal, 16-25 ; genetic, 25- 
32; intuitional, 32-39; para- 
doxical of Bosanquet, 40, 
170 ; normative-sociological 
of Lalo, 140 

Metrical rhythm and experi- 
mental psychology, 5, 11, 12 

Milton, on relation of words 
to oratory, 58 

Mind, the truth of body, 40; 
unpsychological connotation 
of for Bosanquet, 47, 48 

Moliere, 72, 74, 79 



Morris, William, 11, 53, 54, 58, 

150 
Music, assimilation of arts to, 

19, 2(T 
Mysticism in aesthetics, 20 

i 

Nature, Lalo denies aesthetic 
value to, 150 

Neo-Croceanism, method of, 
32-39; logical rather than 
biological, 37, 38; tends to- 
ward negative and tauto- 
logical judgments, 37-39 

Newtonian physics, 147 f. 

Nominalist, Croce a, 93 ; log- 
ical consequences of Croce's 
nominalism, 104-113 

Normative, Lalo's aesthetics, 
140 

One and many, problem of in 
Croce, 89-113 

Palestrina, 146 

Panpsychism, Bosanquet' s crit- 
icism of, 48 

Pattern, distinguished from 
aesthetic form by Fry, 22 

Physiological condition, rela- 
tion to aesthetics for San- 
tayana, 31 

Pink, aesthetic quality of, 163, 
164 

Plato, 23 ; Ideas of, 20, 142 

Poe, E. A., on composition 
of The Raven, 58 

Primitive experience, affinity 
of art with, 33, 34 

Proudhon, 159 

Psychology, Experimental, 
method in aesthetics, 4-16 

Quantity, category in Crocean 
aesthetics, 106, 107, 112 



178 STUDIES IN RECENT AESTHETIC 



Reason, interpretation of by 
Santayana, 132, 133 

Relativity, Lalo's aesthetic a 
doctrine of, 140-161 

Rhvthm, relation to labor, 31 

Richter, "Jean Paul," 88 

Riemann, H., 146 

Ritchie, David, 30 

Ruckmick, Christian, biblio- 
graphy of rhythm, 3 

Ruskin, 150 

Sainte Beuve, 141, 142 

Saint Frideswide's Window in 
Christchurch Cathedral, 167 

Saintsbury, George, 162 

Santayana, G., 25, 31 ; doc- 
trine of aesthetic expres- 
sion, 114-139 

Satire, presupposes mutual 
exclusiveness of individuals, 
70-72 ; transiency of, 73 ff . ; 
its characters interpreted as 
types, 75 ff. ; interpreted as 
a formal construction, 77, 
78 ; interpreted as the limit 
of realism, 78, 79 ; affinity 
with cynicism and pessi- 
mism, 79, 80 ; dilemma re- 
garding, 80 ; importance of 
fancy in, 81-83 

Scientific certainty, condi- 
tioned by abstractness, 147, 
148 

Scriabin, 20, 21 

Self-consciousness cleverness, 
element in ugly, 165 

Shelley, on artist's medium, 42 

Smith, J. A., 32 

Social point of view in aes- 
thetics, 140, 141 

Song, problem of, 5 

Subaesthetic method of Fech- 
ner, 153 

Subjects, miscellaneous, in ex- 
periments, 7-12 



Sublime, Carritt's treatment 

of, 99-102 
Sunday-school hymn, aesthetic 

quality of, 164 

Taine, 140, 143 

Technique, aesthetic value de- 
fined as by Lalo, 150 

Tennyson, 146, 147 

Totality of aesthetic relations, 
Lalo's aesthetic ideal, 153, 
154, 160; check on aesthetic 
value for Lalo, 145 

Tragedy, how interpreted by 
Santayana, 119-121 

Tristram Shandy, 166 

Triumphant art, a problem for 
Neo-Croceanism, 34, 35 

Tufts, James, 27 

Ugly, 162-167; Carritt's defi- 
nition of, 38 ; possible mean- 
inglessness of, 162-163 

Universal, art interpreted as 
the presentation of, 23, 24 

Valentine, C. W, 9, 15, 18 
Value, aesthetic, distinguished 
quality of, 17-25 ; exclusive- 
ness of, 19; defined as 
formal relationship, 19 ; de- 
nied to be compartmental, 
25 ; problem of its relation 
to continuity of life, 29, 30 
Variable, Lalo's aesthetic 
standard a, 155, 156 

Walkley, 32 

Whistler, J. McK., 8 

Whole and part in aesthetics, 

13-16 
Wilde, Oscar, 71 



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